Scabies Rash

How do you get Scabies rash?

Sarcoptes scarbei is the tiny mite that causes scabies after burrowing into the outer layers of the skin. After burrowing into the skin, they lay eggs leading to relentless itching and a rash develops. The scabies rash has red bumps and blisters.

scabies rashScabies rash picture 1 – Scabies rash in between the webs of the fingers

Where do you get Scabies rash?

Areas where scabies affects include:

  • Between the webs of the fingers
  • On the folds of the elbow, wrist, and knee
  • Around the waist and umbilicus
  • On the breasts, genitals and buttocks.
  • In infants and children, the scabies rash is more apparent on the head, face, neck, palms, and soles of the feet.

Pictures of Scabies Rash

scabies rash pictures Picture 2 – Scabies rash on arms, thighs and legs

scabies rash pictures 2Picture 3 – Scabies rash on chest

scabies rash pictures 3Picture 4 – Scabies rash in toddlers


Scabies symptoms take four to six weeks to appear after infestation with the scabies mite.

  • The most common symptom is itching. The itch is insidious and relentless and worsens over a period of weeks. For the first few days, the itch is not as intense, but it gradually intensifies until after a month or two. It becomes difficult to sleep since the itching will get worse at night when the skin is warmer.
  • The patient develops a pimple-like rash.
  • Scales and blisters start to appear.
  • After few days, the patient develops sores as a result of scratching.

How is Scabies spread?

  • Scabies is spread through prolonged skin-to- skin contact with someone who has scabies, where the mites get the opportunity to crawl from one person to another. The contact has to be long since mites won’t fly but crawl.
  • Through shared personal items such as beddings and towels but spreading in this way is quite rare.
  • Dogs and cats also have scabies but the mites cannot reproduce on human skin and as such just fall off and die.


Most often than not, diagnosis is made based on the rash, its appearance and the description of the itch.

  • A definitive diagnosis is made when evidence of the mites is found after a scrapping test and then examined under a microscope. The procedure is quite straightforward, using a blade covered with a drop of oil; the skin is scrapped in a sideways manner over an area of the burrow.
  • Under a microscope, it is possible to identify mites, eggs or feces. Sometimes burrows are hard to detect.
  • Due to the itching, scratch marks are often mistaken for burrows that appear on the skin as tracks that are usually grayish white. These appear once the female mite tunnels under the skin and lays about 10-25 eggs inside.
  • Though not used, polymerase chain reaction [PCR] testing is possible to identify the genetic material of the mites when diagnosis becomes difficult.


The infected patient has to go to the hospital where the diagnosis is made by a qualified doctor after which the doctor will prescribe either or some of the following medications that are listed below. Please note that these are only prescription only medicines.

Follow the instructions as per the prescription:

Apply a mite killer

For example permethrin (Elimite)

  • Apply the cream from neck down
  • Leave the cream overnight and wash it off in the morning
  • Repeat the above procedure for seven days

Permethrin is used in children that are two years and above and also in adults as the most efficient treatment for scabies.

Cream of Lindane

  • Lindane can be used as an alternative treatment. Take one ounce of 1% lotion or 30grams cream of Lindane and apply it from the neck down. You can wash it off the following day.
  • Lindane can cause seizures when absorbed through the skin. Do not use on irritated or wet skin after a bath.
    Lindane should not be used by pregnant and nursing women, by the elderly, people with skin sores at the application site, children younger than two years or people whose weight is less than 110 pounds.

Crotamiton Lotion 10% and cream 10%

Crotamiton cream approved for use in adults but not in children.

Oral medications

Ivermectin [Stromectol]

  • Ivermectin is an oral medication and anti-parasitic that has been shown to be an effective scar bide.
  • It is not FDA approved for the treatment of scabies.
  • CDC recommends a single dose of 200 micrograms per kilogram of body weight and a repeat dose two weeks later.
  • Oral drug administration is better than topical applications, but Ivermectin has a greater risk of toxic side-effects than Permethrin.
    only used when other medications have failed, or the patient has drug intolerance.

Home remedies

  • Use of antihistamines such as Benadryl – Antihistamines are useful in providing relief from itching.
  • Topical or oral steroids are sometimes used to control itching.
  • All linens and bed clothes should be thoroughly washed in hot water because mites cannot survive away from the body. Thorough cleaning of all furniture and carpets.
  • Sexual contacts and close family members who have symptoms or those who had contact with the patient where transmission is likely should also get treatment.
  • Hydrocortisone ointment – a topical application can also be used but only after the diagnosis since it can change the appearance of the rash.


Bacterial infections – Due to prolonged itching and scratching the patient develops sores, and bacteria present may cause skin infection. Oral antibiotics are taken for mild infections and systemic antibiotics for severe cases.


  • You cannot get scabies from hugging someone or shaking hands with them. Avoid skin to skin contact for long duration with infected patients.
  • Treatment of sexual contacts and family members so that they do not develop symptoms.

NOTE: The treatment of contacts is the same as for the infected person.

Is Scabies Rash Contagious?

It is important to know that scabies is contagious. Risk groups include:

  • Prisoners
  • Persons who have been institutionalized such as the elderly.
  • People who are living in crowded conditions.
  • Sexually active adults


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