Scabies (scabies): cause, symptoms, treatments, transmission

Scabies is a problem initially associated with pets. Dogs and cats, especially abandoned ones, are often affected by skin disease.

However, the condition also affects humans, even though, predominantly, it is due to another type of mite.

Although less common, a type of mite can also affect other species. That is, taking care of pets is also taking care of the health of the owners.

In the International Classification of Diseases _ ICD 10, scabies is listed under the code B86 .


What is Scabies?

Scabies, also called scabies, is a contagious skin disease caused by a parasite, the mite Sarcoptes scabiei , which has kennel and hominis variants . The first predominantly affects animals, the second, humans.

When it comes into contact with the skin, it lodges in the host and reproduces there.

Hominis mites do not live more than 3 days away from human skin, because they feed on skin proteins , especially keratin. But, once housed in the skin, they can live up to two months.

It can affect individuals of any gender and age group, but it is more common in children. It is one of the three most common skin diseases in this age group, along with ringworm and bacterial infections.

It can also be located anywhere on the body, but the most common areas are between the fingers and toes, around the wrists and elbows, in the armpits, in the knees and around the waist.

In young children and babies it is more common that the disease proliferates in the regions of the head, neck and palms.

The disease has nothing to do with cleaning, as it proliferates mainly in areas without access to water, in tropical climates and in areas with a large crowd.

Since 2010, scabies has affected approximately 100 million people (1.5% of the world population).

Is human mange the same as animal mange?

Despite the same name, mange that develops in animals, known as sarcoptic mange, is different from that developed in humans because the mites of both are slightly different.

However, in some cases, human infestation with kennel- type mites can occur The person becomes a transient host as soon as the agent does not survive long on human skin.

That is, although less common and limited, scabies can be a zoonosis, and pass from animals to humans.

Causes: or what causes human scabies?

Scabies is caused by a mite, Sarcoptes scabiei , which lodges under the host’s skin. Contact with infected people or surfaces and objects is the route of contagion.

After the mite reaches the human skin, it begins to reproduce. The female penetrates the skin tissue, forming a kind of tunnel to deposit her eggs.

After the eggs form and hatch, the mites that hatch return to the tissue surface and spread to other areas of the body.

As they move, they leave behind their feces, which create linear lesions on the skin.

The disease is the result of an allergic reaction against the mite, its eggs and feces, and it causes intense itching and rashes, such as skin rashes.

How is human mange transmitted?

Scabies is highly contagious and is transmitted through physical contact between people or through contaminated objects, such as sheets.

The most common cases are family members who live in the same house or during sexual activity.

It can also be transmitted easily in places of great crowd, the most common examples are: army, homes for the elderly, daycare centers, prisons and childcare institutions.

The contact that children and adolescents have at school is usually not enough to transmit scabies, but there can still be risks.

It is called crusted scabies when mites proliferate in large quantities throughout the body, and this is the most critical form of the disease and is usually related to immunosuppression.

In this case, transmission is even more likely, and may occur in brief contacts, such as handshakes or even through clothing, objects and bedding.

Scabies can also be transmitted from one individual to another even if the host has not yet developed any symptoms of the disease.

Groups of risk

There are no specific risk factors for the disease, as it can affect individuals of any age and sex, but it is more common to develop in children and babies.

Individuals with immunodeficiency are also more susceptible to scabies.

Symptoms of Human Scabies

After coming in contact with scabies, if you have never had the disease before, symptoms can take up to 6 weeks to appear. If there has been an infection before, the symptoms tend to appear within 4 days.

The most common signs and symptoms of scabies are:

  • Itching, usually severe and worsening at night;
  • Presence of papules and lesions, such as dots or small balls with relief, that appear mainly in the folds of the skin.

The most common areas for papules to appear are:

  • Waist;
  • Elbows;
  • Fingers and toes;
  • Fists;
  • Armpits;
  • Bottom of the buttocks;
  • In men, they can appear in the genital region;
  • In women, they can also appear in the breasts.

Crusted scabies (or Norwegian scabies)

The most severe form of scabies develops when the host’s organism has a weak immune system, usually due to some medical condition or old age.

In this case, the most common symptoms are crusts spread over the skin, which tend to be hard, grayish in appearance and break easily when touched.

They do not always cause itching and can appear in more than one region of the body, such as the scalp, back and feet.

Because it develops in individuals with a low immune system, crusted scabies multiplies more easily and at a greater speed.

Scabies in infants and children

When it occurs in children, the symptoms are the same, itching and skin lesions such as dots or dots. But the most common areas of appearance of these injuries are:

  • Head;
  • Face;
  • Neck;
  • Hands;
  • Sole of the feet.

Babies when they develop the disease are generally very irritable, insomniac and have a lack of appetite. Children are also irritable and the itchiness can keep them awake at night.

Scabies Diagnosis

The diagnosis of scabies can be made by a dermatologist through a physical examination, where he will inspect the affected areas.

If there are still no signs of the disease, the doctor may take a small sample of skin, which will be examined to confirm the presence of the bacteria or its eggs.

Other diseases can also be associated with itching, such as dermatitis and impetigo , so medical opinion is necessary.

What is the treatment for human scabies?

Treatment should be directed to eliminate symptoms and routes of transmission. That is, in addition to medicines, there must be a cleaning of the environments and elimination of possible sources of mites.


The treatment of the disease is simple and basically done through medications, some dermatologically tested creams and lotions that aim to end the parasite infestation.

Generally, the patient applies the medicine on the body after bathing for a few days, allowing it to act naturally during the night and removing it the next day.

It is important that the application is repeated after 7 days, to combat the mites from the eggs that had not yet hatched during the first application.

Hygiene and sterilization

Environments and objects must be properly sanitized, eliminating the mites present. Periodic washing of utensils, vases and sheets and blankets is essential.

Especially in shared homes or common living environments, such as nursing homes or schools, changing bedding, towels and pillowcases is very important.

If pets are present, care for pets should also be constant. Therefore, the cleaning of their utensils is also essential.

Scabies remedy: ointment or pill?

The drugs will be prescribed by your dermatologist and some of them can be recommended for individuals who have been in contact with the patient.

Usually, the medications are for topical use, that is, applied to the surface of the skin, in the affected region. But there are also medications in tablets, that is, orally.

The choice depends on the doctor’s evaluation, and can be:

Tablet (oral)

Among systemic remedies, per pill, there are:

  • Ivermectin (like Iverneo and Ivermec ).

Ointment or solution

  • Benzyl benzoate (such as Sanasar and Acarsan );
  • Permethrin (as Keltrina );
  • Lindane;
  • Crotamiton (Eurax);
  • Malathion.


Soaps have the same principle as topical medicines, as they are formulated with substances that fight the mite.

Its use must follow the recommendations of the doctor. Among the options are:

Benzyl benzoate (like Miticoçan and Sanasar ).

Home remedy: how to cure human scabies fast?

Home remedies and treatments for scabies can facilitate and accelerate the improvement of the condition.

But it is worth remembering that they are not a substitute for medical treatment. Therefore, they are just allies in the best evolution of the patient.

Performing hot baths 2 to 3 times a day, with shampoo and neutral soap, can prevent the growth of mites.

There are also ways to help relieve itching, such as:

  • Massage with olive oil to soothe the skin;
  • Make smoked tea compresses: 2 teaspoons of dry leaves boiled in water, after 10 minutes of rest, dip the cloth in the tea and apply over the affected areas.

Consult your doctor if symptoms persist even after four weeks of treatment.

Living with scabies

When treatment is started, it is recommended:

  • Wash personal, bed and bath clothes daily using the machine’s hottest level;
  • Change clothes daily;
  • If something cannot be washed, put it in a plastic bag and leave it sealed for at least a week;
  • Vacuum the entire house, including carpets and rugs.

Even after the parasite has been eradicated, the itching may persist for some time. To relieve itching, the patient can take some measures:

  • Immerse the skin in cold water or apply a wet towel over the irritated areas;
  • Apply lotions and creams to moisturize the skin;
  • Use antihistamines, which help to fight allergic symptoms.

Scabies Complications

The main complication can occur through itching. Scratching the lesions can cause sores, which allows other bacteria or viruses to enter the body, causing a bacterial infection.

As for crusted scabies, its complication is due to the treatment, which can be more complicated and time-consuming.

How to prevent scabies?

The only way to prevent scabies is to avoid direct or intimate contact with an individual infected with the parasite.

To prevent re-infestation, you must wash and dry all personal, bed and bath clothes that the patient has had contact with at the hottest level that the machine allows.

What cannot be washed, must be vacuumed. In this way, the bacteria that may have stayed on any of these objects will be eliminated.

Scabies in dog (canine)

As in humans, dog scabies cause a lot of itching and sores on the surface of the skin. It is caused by the kennel mite. In animals, however, there are other types of scabies that can affect them.

Sarna otodécica

It is an infection that affects only the ears of pets. Therefore, the condition is restricted to dogs and cats only. In general, it causes inflammation in the region, which can cause severe itching.

Demodic scabies or black sane

This type affects puppies early in life, after delivery or breastfeeding. The demodex canis mite is transmitted and lodges in the animals’ fur, but unlike the others, black scabies do not itch in most of the paintings.

Only if there is an immunological low or other conditions that favor the manifestation do the symptoms appear.

This makes many people not even suspect that the pet is infected.

Although there is no cure, the condition is not contagious to humans.

Common questions

How long to cure scabies?

After starting medication, for safety, the ideal is to remain isolated for about 24h to 48h, avoiding the transmission of the mite. After that time, it may be that the lesions and other symptoms still persist for a few more days, but it is a phase of recovery and healing. On average, in 14 days the signs disappear.

How do you know if you have scabies?

Scabies, or scabies, manifests very characteristic rashes and skin lesions, appearing mainly on the hands, wrists, armpits, feet, knees, waist and buttocks. A health professional will be able to identify you easily. Itchy and itchy skin are also signs of infection.

How long does the treatment of human scabies last?

It depends on the medication and the complementary treatment. On average, if the environment is well sterilized and the mites are eliminated, in about 10 to 21 days the medication is finished and the skin symptoms improve. The ideal is to follow medical guidelines.

Is vinegar good for scabies in people?

Vinegar is widely used in various treatments and homemade recipes. In general, it can be used in the preparation of cleaning substances. For example, mixing water and vinegar to clean surfaces, sofas or fabrics.

However, there are several products specially developed for this that can have good results and not leave that characteristic smell of vinegar.

On the skin, whether from humans or animals, the recommendation is to use only medicated or specific products for treatment. Thus, the risk of complications or skin lesions is avoided.

Scabies is a communicable disease, yet easy to treat. Share this text with your friends and family so they can also find out how to treat it!