What is Scabies?

The skin condition scabies is caused by mites called Sarcoptes scabiei, which can be passed from person to person. It is a relatively common affliction that can affect anyone.


Generally, only a small number of mites, usually in the dozen range, are the source of the symptoms associated with them. These mites enter the skin, often through the hands, and

then travel throughout the body.


Scabies mites must be transmitted through direct skin contact, so it is not uncommon for multiple household members to be affected simultaneously. In addition, it is common to acquire the mites through sexual contact.


A person may experience itching skin, which is usually more severe in the evening. The itching may begin in a single area, usually the hands, and then spread to other body parts. All body areas, apart from the head, can be affected unless an individual is elderly, very young, or has a weakened immune system.


It may take two to six weeks after exposure to the mites for the symptoms of scabies to appear. The itch and rash result from an allergic reaction to the mites and their saliva, faeces, or eggs. People who have had scabies before may experience the symptoms sooner.


There are several symptoms associated with scabies, including:

  • An itchy skin condition that worsens at night.

  • The loose skin between your fingers, inner wrists, and hands is often covered with mite tunnels, which are fine, dark, or silvery lines.

  • There is a red, blotchy, bumpy rash on the skin.

  • Pimple-like bumps, hives, and bites.

  • Scratching leads to skin damage and secondary skin infections.

  • Psoriasis or eczema symptoms are worsening.


The mites that cause scabies can be found on the soles of the feet, between the fingers, and on the ankles and wrists. These are the areas in which the mites will burrow into the skin and lay their eggs, causing an itchy rash that can cover much of the body.


During an online video consultation, our doctors are usually able to make a diagnosis of scabies by observing the affected area.


If the doctor cannot diagnose scabies just by looking at it, they may need to refer you to a specialist for a skin scraping. Through this process, the skin sample will be viewed under a microscope to see if scabies mites or eggs are present. This is necessary to determine if it is scabies or eczema dermatitis.

Risk Factors

Scabies can easily be transmitted through close contact with others, making it a significant risk in environments like:

  • Schools

  • Sports or gym changing rooms

  • Care facilities

  • Rehab facilities

  • Nursing homes

  • Prisons

  • Shared houses

Norwegian scabies

People with a weakened immune system, older people, and those not in good health may develop an especially contagious form of scabies known as crusted scabies or Norwegian scabies. This condition involves thousands of scabies mites and can easily be spread from person to person.


There may not be intense itching with crusted scabies, unlike psoriasis. A higher risk of crusted scabies exists if:

  • You use steroids

  • There are certain medicines you take, for example, those that treat rheumatoid arthritis.

  • You are malnourished

  • If your chemotherapy treatment is underway

  • You have HIV or AIDS