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Scabies - What it is

Scabies is a common skin infection caused by the mite, Sarcoptes scabiei. This mite only lives on human skin, where it also lays its eggs. The eggs take a week to hatch and the mite lives for 30 to 60 days.

Scabies is transmitted by direct contact with an infected person. Spread through shared bedding and clothing is also possible. Re-infection can occur if other infected family members are not treated at the same time.

Scabies - Symptoms

Patients present with severe itch that is usually worse at nights.

Skin rashes include scratched, red bumps and small burrows. Common areas affected are web spaces between the fingers and toes, wrists, ankles, armpits, waist and genitals.

Sometimes, after excessive scratching, bacterial infection can occur, and the rashes become weepy and painful.

After treatment, itching will improve but can last for up to a few months.

Scabies - How to prevent?

Scabies - Causes and Risk Factors

Poor hygiene and close body contact can lead to faster spread of the scabies mites between family members.

Scabies - Diagnosis

Sometimes, the mites may be seen from scrapings of the skin rash. However, a negative result does not exclude scabies and your doctor may still prescribe scabies treatment if the suspicion is high.

Scabies - Treatments

Topical therapies are the most commonly used treatment options for scabies.

Topical permethrin cream: Safe for use above one month of age. Apply and leave on overnight, before washing off. For infants less than a year old, apply to the whole body including the scalp. In older children and adults, apply from the neck down. Repeat treatment one week later.

Topical malathion lotion: Safe for use above one year of age. Apply from neck down, leave on for 24 hours, before washing off. Treatment is recommended for two consecutive days. Repeat treatment one week later.

Topical benzyl benzoate: Not recommended for children younger than two years of age. Apply and leave on for 24 hours, before washing off. Apply for three consecutive days. Can be used in pregnant women.

Oral ivermectin: This may be given for severely affected patients who do not clear with other forms of treatment.

All close contacts and members of the household (including helpers and grandparents) need to be treated with the abovementioned treatment to minimise re-infection. Bed sheets, linen and clothing require thorough cleaning, preferably in a washing machine.

Scabies - Preparing for surgery

Scabies - Post-surgery care

Scabies - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth