Scabies Information

The Public Health Clinic in Eureka offers screening, diagnosis and prescriptions for scabies infections.

An infection of “scabies” is caused by a tiny mite that has infested humans for at least a few thousand years. The mite is often hard to detect, and causes an extremely itchy skin condition. Medical professionals estimate that more than 300 million cases of scabies occur worldwide every year. The condition can strike anyone of any race or age, regardless of personal hygiene. Everyone is susceptible.

The eight-legged mite can barely be seen by the human eye, but attracted to warmth and odor the mite can burrow rapidly into the skin. The female mite begins laying eggs and within several weeks the infected person develops an allergic reaction to the mites’ presence—experienced as red bumps and severe itching. The larvae, or newly hatched mites, travel to the skin surface, lying in shallow pockets where they will develop into adult mites. If the mite is scratched off the skin, it can live in clothing, towels, or bedding for up to 24 hours—possibly longer.

Scabies prefer warmer sites on the skin, such as skin folds, where clothing is tight, between the fingers or under the nails, on the elbows or wrists, the buttocks or belt line, around the nipples and on the penis. Mites also tend to hide in, or on, bracelets and watchbands, or the skin under rings. In children, the infestation may involve the entire body including the palms, soles and scalp.

Getting rid of all the mites at the same time is critical in the treatment of scabies. This means all laundry will need to be done and everyone in the family or household, whether itching or not, should be treated at the same time if you hope to prevent a reinfestation.

Scabies Resources
California Department of Public Health
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Scabies Prevention & Control Manual