Scabies is a common skin condition caused by tiny insects called mites.
Scabies can be unpleasant but they do not directly cause disease. If the skin gets infected, it can lead to complications
Having scabies doesn’t mean you are not clean.
What are the symptoms?
The mites that cause scabies dig deep into the skin and lay eggs. This leads to a rash that has small, red, raised spots. Itchiness is usually worse at night.
The rash typically appears between the fingers, in the groin area, between toes or around the wrists or elbows, but can be found anywhere on the body.
In babies and young children, the rash can appear on the head, face, neck, chest, abdomen, and back. It looks like white, curvy, thread-like lines, tiny red bumps or scratch marks.
How does it spread?
Scabies spreads by close contact with someone’s skin, such as when people share a bed. It often spreads within a household. Short contact, like shaking hands or a hug, usually will not spread scabies. It is occasionally spread from someone’s clothes or personal items like bedding or clothing.
The mites that cause scabies can live off skin for up to 3 days.
Animals do not spread human scabies.
How is it treated?
Scabies is treated with a cream or lotion that a health care provider prescribes. It is usually kept on the skin for several hours. You may need to do 2 treatments, 1 week apart.
Your child may still be itchy for a few weeks, even if the mites have all died.
Everyone who lives in the home will need to be treated at the same time because a family member can have scabies without yet showing symptoms.
What can parents do?
Call your health care provider if you think your child has scabies.
If your child has scabies, wash all bed linen (sheets, pillowcases and blankets), towels and clothes in hot water and dry in a dryer at the hottest setting. This will kill the mites.
Store things that can’t be washed in an airtight plastic bag for 1 week to kill the mites.
Your child can return to child care or school once you have applied the first treatment.