Scabies is a skin infestation caused by microscopic
parasites called mites.
The mites burrow under the
skin creating small, raised areas. These burrows,
which contain fluid, resemble wavy lines and appear
frequently on finger webs or on the wrists, elbows,
breasts, belt line, thighs and abdomen.
A rash may
occur anywhere on the body, regardless of the area
of infestation. Itching is intense, especially at night.
What is the incubation period?
Persons with no previous exposure begin itching
after 2-6 weeks.
Persons with prior exposure develop
symptoms within 1-4 days.
How is scabies transmitted?
Direct skin-to-skin contact with an infested person.
Less commonly, transmission occurs through contact
with contaminated clothing, bedding or other
What is the communicable period?
Scabies is easily transmitted from the time of
infestation until after mites and eggs are destroyed
(ordinarily within 24 hours after the first treatment
and occasionally after two courses of treatment one
How is scabies diagnosed?
The diagnosis of scabies should be confirmed by a
medical professional using skin scrapings and
microscopic identification of live mites, eggs and/or fecal pellets.
How should scabies be treated?
Infested persons should be treated with a
prescription product as soon as possible after
Follow the instructions on the medication
The infested person should avoid social
situations, including work or school, until 24 hours
after the first treatment.
Itching may persist for 1-2
weeks after treatment; this should not be taken as a
sign of treatment failure.
Household contacts of an
infested person should be treated since they may
have been exposed.
Overtreating should be avoided
because the medication can be toxic.
How should scabies be controlled?
After applying the treatment and waiting the
specified time (according to the manufacturer's
directions), the infested person should bathe or
If the infested person is in a long-term care
facility or hospital, personnel caring for the patient
should wear gowns and gloves for the first 24 hours
Laundry personnel should wear
gowns and gloves when handling contaminated
Bedding, clothing, underclothes and linens
should be laundered and heat dried.
Recommendations vary, but personal items that are
not easily washed and dried should be kept in a
closed plastic bag for at least 5 days.
Mop floors and
vacuum carpets and furniture.
A high index of suspicion should be maintained for
scabies in long-term care facilities.
In some instances
where facilities are experiencing an epidemic of scabies, mass treatment of patients, contacts and
personnel may be indicated (with treatment taking
place on the same day).
For isolated cases of scabies,
selective treatment should be used.
staff (those without any signs or symptoms of
infestation) who have provided direct-contact care
for the infested patient should be treated.
Close personal contacts of symptomatic patients
(those who have skin contact).
contacts (family members) of symptomatic
employees should also be treated.
Where can I get more information?
Contact your physician or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.