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Scabies is caused by a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. It is highly contagious and is common worldwide in all races and social classes


Incubation Period
2 – 6 weeks before itching occurs in a person not previously infected.

Mode of Transmission
Scabies spreads from person to person usually by close skin-to-skin contact or shared clothing or bed linen.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Skin burrows, greyish-white, slightly elevated passageways where they lay their eggs and die. Common places: web spaces of fingers and toes, palms and soles, wrists, armpits, skin around the navel and women’s nipples.
  • Intense Itching.
  • In debilitated persons, crusted scabies can develop. This form is highly infectious.

Positive contact history is very suggestive. Presence of burrows (not always obvious) is confirmatory. Longstanding cases develop genital nodules.

Lotions prescribed by medical doctors: 5% permethrin dermal cream or malathion liquid.

When there is an outbreak in a family, it is important that the whole family is treated at the same time, otherwise the infection starts again.

Control and Prevention

  • Underwear, clothes and bed-linen used by the patient in the last 48 hours prior to treatment should be washed and dried using hot cycles.
  • Family members and contacts should be checked and treated accordingly. Source of infestation should be checked.
  • The case should be isolated from school or workplace until the day following the first application of appropriate treatment

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