Scabies - Western SummaryWestern Medicine Summary

Western Medicine

Western Summary

Scabies are an infestation of the skin by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei.


Scabies infections produce a severely itchy rash that tends to develop in the finger web spaces, wrists, abdomen, belly button, and genitals. However, the rash can also spread to other parts of the body such as the chest, back, abdomen, arms, and legs over the course of weeks.  


The Sarcoptes scabiei mite burrows into the skin of the host. The mite stays in the epidermis of the skin and is able to reproduce and lay eggs there as well. The mite can be contracted through contact with an infected person, or by objects and materials that the mite is attached to such as pillows, furniture, or clothing.


Treatments are performed such that the mite can be killed, and then the treatment needs to be repeated one week later to catch eggs that hatched afterward. Even after successful treatment, itching can last for up to a month because it takes a month for the epidermis to fully turnover all the cells and remove any mite parts that may have been left behind after treatment. These mite parts can continue to cause itching while they are still present in the skin. In addition to treating the person infected, all bed linens, clothing, and other material objects must be washed in hot water at the time of each treatment. 

  • Permethrin cream is a topical treatment for scabies; others include precipitated sulfur, lindane, and crotamiton. These topical preparations are often prescribed for multiple uses in succession. 
  • Occasionally oral ivermectin is prescribed alone or along with topical treatment.
  • People that are in close contact with a person that has been infected with scabies should be treated as well even if there are no visible signs or symptoms of a scabies infestation