Overview and Photo Gallery of Scabies

About the Itchy, Painful Rash

Scabies - The Mite That Causes Scabies

Photos of the Itchy, Painful Rash. CDC / Joe Miller / Reed and Carnich Pharmaceuticals

Scabies is an extremely itchy rash caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. Scabies occurs in both sexes, all ages and all ethnicities. It's estimated that 300 million cases of scabies occur globally each year. This photo gallery depicts the rash and the mite that causes it, and explains symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.

This is a picture of the mite, Sarcoptes scabiei, that causes scabies. The mite is very small: less than half a millimeter. It is too small to be seen with the naked eye. Scabies occurs when a female mite burrows under the skin and lays 10 to 25 eggs. The eggs hatch in approximately three days and the larvae move the surface of the skin, maturing into adults within 10 to 14 days. Scabies is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact. Infested bedding or clothing are rarely causes of infection.

Scabies Rash on Body

Photos of the Itchy, Painful Rash. CDC

Scabies often resembles other rashes and is therefore misdiagnosed. In this photo the person has scabies, but the rash appears similar to dermatitis, psoriasis, hot tub folliculitis and pityriasis rosea. In order to make a diagnosis, a portion of the rash is scraped off and viewed under a microscope. Unfortunately the mite is usually not found in this method. If the rash doesn't improve as expected, a skin biopsy may be performed to figure out what is causing the rash.

Scabies Rash Between Fingers

Photos of the Itchy, Painful Rash. CDC

A common place for scabies to occur is between the fingers. Note that the rash is red and bumpy. These are papules, and they have small lines connected to them, known as burrows. Once under the skin, the mite doesn't travel very far, so the burrows may not be visible.

The rash causes painful inflammation with blisters, redness and itching. In addition to between the fingers, scabies also commonly occurs on the wrists, in the armpits, around the waist and in the genital area.

Scabies Rash on Hand

Photos of the Itchy, Painful Rash. CDC / Reed and Carnrich Pharmaceuticals

A typical scabies rash is red and bumpy. In severe cases like the once pictured above, the area can become very inflamed. Scabies is typically treated with topical treatments and oral medication, including permethrin cream and lindane lotion. Ivermectin, an oral medication used to treat other parasites, is also an effective treatment, although it is not approved by the FDA.

Scabies Rash on Leg

Photos of the Itchy, Painful Rash. CDC / Susan Lindsley

Another common place to get scabies is the groin and genital areas. If left untreated the rash can spread down the legs, as seen in this picture. Topical medication will kill the mites, but they will still exist in the skin until the body breaks them down and absorbs them. This process takes around 4 weeks; the rash is usually very itchy during the healing process. Oral antihistamines or topical steroids are often prescribed to help relieve itching.

It's also recommended that those who have had close contact with someone diagnosed with scabies be treated. This includes sexual partners and anyone who has had prolonged skin-to-skin contact with someone with scabies. A quick hug or handshake is not likely to put someone at risk.

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