What Are Scabies Symptoms and Signs? What Do Scabies Skin Lesions Look Like?
Symptoms occur from two to six weeks to appear after exposure. They include severe and continuous itching, especially at night.
- The skin may show signs of small insect-type bites, or the lesions may look like pimples, bumps, or blisters, especially around the wrist, elbow, knee, underarm area, groin, or finger webs. The skin may also have redness, rash, or have sores (welts, bumps or nodules, especially in children, termed nodular scabies) due to scratching of the area. Large nodules of 2-20 mm in diameter may appear in infants unable to scratch.
- A burrow (a short S-shaped track that indicates the mite's movement under the skin) may also be visible, especially in the webs of fingers and toes. Burrows may be small enough to be overlooked. Thus, scabies also should be considered whenever there is intense itching and/or scratching, even without an obvious rash, bite, or burrow. Ulcers are not frequently formed.
- Scabies frequently occur in the crevasses of the body such as between the fingers and toes, the buttocks, the elbows, the waist area, the genital area, and under the breasts in women. The face, neck, head, scalp, palms, soles, and lips are usually not affected, except in infants or very young children.
- Risk factors such as immune suppression or old age may predispose patients to more extensive disease. In crusted (Norwegian) scabies, the body is covered with a thick, dry, and scaly rash. The rash of crusted scabies may or may not itch, but it contains thousands to millions of mites. Crusted scabies is the most contagious form of scabies and the hardest to treat.
- Many other skin rashes may look like scabies, including allergic drug reactions, contact dermatitis, and viral rashes such as shingles.
When Should Someone Seek Medical Care for Scabies?
You should see a doctor if you suspect you have scabies because treatment of the condition requires prescription medications. Also, other conditions may cause rashes that itch, and it is important to have the correct diagnosis when considering treatment options. When calling to schedule an appointment, be sure to tell your doctor's staff that you are concerned that you or your child may have scabies.
If you still have symptoms two weeks after treatment, you should be reevaluated by a physician. Sometimes the itching takes a while to go away. It is also possible to get reinfected.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/22/2016
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