Scabies (SKAY-beez)

What is Scabies?

A mite that burrows under the skin and lays eggs.

How is it contracted?

Through close contact or through sleeping in bedding or wearing clothes that are infested. Rarely, holding or shaking hands can transmit scabies.

Incubation Period

As long as a week if it’s the first time you’ve been infested; a day if it’s a recurrence.

Symptoms of Scabies

Signs of a scabies infestation include intense itching, or small bumps or a rash on the penis, between the fingers, on buttocks, breasts, wrists, thighs, or around the navel.


A dermatologist will perform several different tests on the surface of the skin.

Treatment of Scabies

Creams and lotions containing permethrin such as Rid and Nix must be applied to the whole body from the neck down. (As with pubic lice, products containing lindane may be harmful to the fetus if used by a pregnant woman; check with your doctor.) Change clothing and sleep on freshly laundered sheets after you’ve applied the lotion. Any bedding or clothing that may have been infested should be washed with very hot water or dry-cleaned.

If you are not treated

Continued scratching can cause an infection, and if it left untreated, scabies can be transmitted to anyone you come in close contact with.