Human itch mite: This female mite, shown magnified 100 times, is full of eggs. She will burrow into human skin to lay her eggs.
A mite causes this common skin condition. Called the human itch mite, this eight-legged bug is so small that you cannot see it on the skin. People get scabies when the mite burrows into the top layer of skin to live and feed. When the skin reacts to the mite, an extremely itchy rash develops.
This mite can travel from the infected person to another person. Most people get scabies from direct, skin-to-skin contact. Less often, people pick up mites from infested items such as bedding, clothes, and furniture. The mite can survive for about 48 to 72 hours without human contact. Worldwide, there are millions of cases of scabies each year.
Anyone can get scabies. It strikes people of all ages, races, and income levels. People who are very clean and neat can get scabies. It tends to spread easily in nursing homes and extended-care facilities. The good news is that a dermatologist can successfully diagnose and treat scabies. With today’s treatments, scabies need only cause short-term distress.
Learn more about scabies
Image used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (J Am Acad Dermatol 2004; 50:819-42).
References Habif, Campbell, Chapman, et al. In: Dermatology DDxDeck. 2006. China. Mosby Elsevier. Card #92: Scabies.
Chosidow O. Clinical practices. Scabies. N Engl J Med 2006; 354: 1718-27.
Jacobson CC, Abel EA. Parasitic infestations. J Am Acad Dermatol 2007; 56: 1026-43.
Steen CJ, Carbonaro PA, Schwartz RA. Arthropods in dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol 2004; 50: 819-42, quiz 42-4