Defined as transmissible ectoparasite skin infection, scabies is one of the most embarrassing skin diseases. Scabies show superficial burrows, secondary infection and intense itching. Scabies is very contagious skin disease and therefore you may get infected in many ways.

A good thing about scabies is that, unlike the cause of many other infections and diseases, the cause of scabies is actually known.

Who is susceptible to scabies?

There is no restriction on who will/can get scabies disease. Scabies mites can easily spread through warm and moist folds of skin such as groin, armpits and buttocks. As the condition is very contagious and it can spread by skin-to-skin contact, we can say following are more prone to getting scabies.

  • Kids
  • Sexually active young adults
  • Residents of nursing homes, assisted-living residences, and extended-care facilities
  • Nursing staff of a hospital

Whenever someone in a household gets scabies, all others in the household is likely to get it. Also, if the person has weakened immune system, that will increases the risk of getting scabies. Following people who generally have weak immune system are prone to getting scabies as well:

  • Elderly people
  • People with HIV/AIDS
  • If you have lymphoma, or leukemia
  • Those who received an organ transplant

Which part of body is more prone for scabies?

Any part of our skin can get infected with scabies, but some areas which are usually more moist are commonly gets infected. Below are mostly where scabies infestation begins in our body:

  • Hands: in the spaces between the fingers (or webbing), around the fingernails, and under rings or any hot, moist areas.
  • Covered Skin: mainly any areas of the body that are normally covered by clothing or jewelry, such as the belt line, or in places where you wear jewelry or a watch
  • Arms: particularly around the elbows and wrists (they like little folds in the skin) in linear burrows and vesicles around the wrists and in between the finger webbings.
  • Head: in children and infants, scabies will commonly live in the skin of the head.
  • Genital: In adults scabies commonly prefer the folds of skin around the penis and scrotum as well in areas around the buttocks.
  • Buttocks: in the folds around the butt and around the moist areas near the penis and genitals.
  • Breast: in women, scabies can burrow under the folds of the breasts.
  • Feet & Ankles: around the skin of the ankles and in the soles of the feet.

What are the scabies symptoms?

You won't be able to see the scabies mite itself. But it will end up showing in various symtoms.

Most common signs and symptoms of scabies are intense itching (pruritus), especially at night, and a pimple-like (papular) itchy rash. The itching and rash each may affect much of the body or be limited to common sites such as the wrist, elbow, armpit, webbing between the fingers, nipple, penis, waist, belt-line, and buttocks. The rash also can include tiny blisters (vesicles) and scales. Scratching the rash can cause skin sores; sometimes these sores become infected by bacteria.

Sometimes tiny burrows are seen on the skin; these are caused by the female scabies mite tunneling just beneath the surface of the skin. These burrows appear as tiny raised and crooked (serpiginous) grayish-white or skin-colored lines on the skin surface. Because mites are often few in number (only 10-15 mites per person), these burrows may be difficult to find. They are found most often in the webbing between the fingers, in the skin folds on the wrist, elbow, or knee, and on the penis, breast, or shoulder blades.

Symptoms little vary in kids. The head, face, neck, palms, and soles often are  often involved in infants and very young children, but usually not adults and older children.

The actual symptoms of scabies condition may not being for almost 4 days after infection. Sometimes, it can take 2 to 6 weeks to develop any symptoms at all.

What causes scabies?

Sarcoptes scabiei - cause of scabies
Sarcoptes scabiei - cause of scabies

Eight legged mites called Sarcoptes scabiei are the cause of scabies. Sarcoptes is a genus of skin parasites and part of the larger family of mites collectively known as scab mites. They are under 0.5 mm in size but are sometimes visible as pinpoints of white. When this mite moves within the skin and on the skin, that will produce an intense itch that may resemble an allergic reaction in appearance.

The microscopic human scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs.  An infestation begins when an egg-bearing female scabies mite tunnels under the skin and lays eggs in the burrow. After an incubation time of 3–10 days, eggs hatch into immature mites which develop under the skin.