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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Scabies - Symptoms

If you have scabies, you will likely have itching and irritated skin that gets worse until the mites are killed.

  • Itching usually starts first. It often becomes noticeable at night or after bathing and is sometimes mistaken for dry skin. Itching is caused by an allergic reaction to the scabies mite. Sometimes the itching is very intense, especially in small children and older adults.
  • Irritated skin often appears as a rash and skin sorescamera.gif that look like tiny curving tracks. These symptoms are a result of the mite tunneling under the upper layers of the skin. Sometimes you can see a small blister or the mite itself, which looks like a tiny black dot, at the end of a burrow. The tracks may be hard to see after you scratch the area. Babies may only have red and inflamed skin, sometimes with small sores that are like blisters.

Symptoms are most likely to develop:

  • Between the fingers and on the palm side of the wrists.
  • On the outside surfaces of the elbows and in the armpits.
  • Around the waistline and navel.
  • On the buttocks.
  • Around the nipples, bra line, and the sides of the breasts (in women).
  • On the genitals (in men).

In babies and small children, itching and skin irritation may also occur:

  • Around or on the scalp, neck, and face.
  • On the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Often the first symptom noticed in a baby is in these areas and is a series of tiny sores that are like blisters (vesicles).

Other problems

Skin sores, called secondary lesions, can develop later in the course of the condition. Problems may include:

  • Scratches, sometimes covered by a crust. Scratching the scabies burrows can irritate and break open the skin.
  • Red, dry, scaly, irritated areas of skin.
  • Nodular scabies. These are small reddish brown raised areas (nodules). The nodules may develop in covered areas such as the armpits, groin, buttocks, scrotum, and penis. The nodules itch and may persist for weeks or months after scabies has been cured.

Babies and older adults are especially at risk for these lesions, because they may not be treated right away. Early symptoms in babies and older adults are more likely to be missed or mistaken for another condition.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 14, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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