Scabies is an irritating, itchy rash caused by a tiny mite. The burrowing and egg-laying of these mites produce a rash that nearly always affects the hands and fingers, particularly the clefts between the fingers. It may also affect the ankles, feet, toes, elbows, and the area around the genitals. The symptoms of scabies may take up to six weeks to appear. When the eggs hatch, they are easily passed on from one person to another by direct contact. They can also be picked up from bedding that is infested with the mites.

Possible Symptoms

  • Intense itchiness
  • Fine, short lines that end in a black spot the size of a pinhead, most often found between the fingers
  • Scabs on the itchy areas

Is it serious?

Scabies is not serious, but it is contagious, and can run through a family or a school class if not treated promptly.

What should I do first?

  1. If your child is scratching a lot, look for the fine lines of the mites’ burrows.
  2. If you suspect scabies, keep your child away from school until you have administered the treatment.
  3. Try to discourage her from scratching. This may hinder the doctor’s diagnosis, and cause sores to form that could become infected.

Should I seek medical help?

Seek medical advice if you suspect scabies, or if your child is scratching a lot.

What might the doctor do?

  • Your doctor will prescribe a lotion to be applied in sufficient quantity for the whole family to be treated.

What can I do to help?

  • After thorough washing, apply the lotion that your doctor has prescribed on the whole body below the neck, and let dry. Don’t wash it off for at least 24 hours. To ensure that you have completely cleared the mites, repeat the procedure for another 24 hours in a day or two.
  • Do the treatment for other members of the family simultaneously.
  • Launder or air all bedding and clothing to eradicate the mite. It does not live longer than five or six days after it is removed from human skin.