Scabies is a skin infestation caused by the scabies mite. It often
causes intense itchiness.
What is going on in the body?
The scabies mite, or Sarcoptes scabies, is specific to humans and spread by
skin-to-skin contact. The mites live just below the skin's surface in an
infected person. Generally, with the first episode of scabies, itching and skin
lesions begin 1 to 1 1/2 months after infection. With reinfestation, symptoms
often begin immediately. Scabies symptoms may continue for weeks or months
prior to diagnosis and can continue for years if left untreated.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Scabies is caused when a person picks up the mites on his or her
skin. Children under the age of 2 years are at high risk for scabies, as are their mothers.
Soldiers, nursing home patients, and prison inmates in crowded conditions can
also contract scabies readily.