Scabies

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideScabies Pictures Slideshow: Stop the Itch Mite

Scabies Pictures Slideshow: Stop the Itch Mite

How is a scabies infestation diagnosed?

Scabies is suggested by the presence of the typical rash and symptoms of unrelenting and worsening itch, particularly at night. Ultimately, the definitive diagnosis is made when evidence of mites is found from a skin scraping test. By scraping the skin (covered with a drop of mineral oil) sideways with a scalpel blade over an area of a burrow and examining the scrapings microscopically, it is possible to identify mites, eggs, or pellets. This process can be difficult, however, since burrows can be hard to identify. Sometimes scratch marks are mistaken for burrows, and even the examination of scrapings from 15 or more burrows may only reveal one or two mites or eggs. If the characteristic physical findings are present, scabies can often be treated without performing the skin scrapings necessary to identify the mites. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is available to identify the genetic material of the scabies mites when the diagnosis is difficult, though this is not generally used. The mites can also be identified in skin biopsies that are performed when other causes of skin disease are suspected. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 4/20/2016
References
REFERENCE:

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Parasites - Scabies." Nov. 2, 2010.

IMAGE SOURCES:

1. Pixtal Images

2. MedicineNet

3. iStock

4. Getty Images / John Howard

5. Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas & Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology Klaus Wolff, Richard Allen Johnson, Dick Suurmond Copyright 2005, 2001, 1997, 1993 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights reserved.

6. Color Atlas of Pediatric Dermatology Samuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard Kristal Copyright 2008, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

7. iStock

8. Bigstock

9. iStock

10. Bigstock

11. iStock

12. iStock

13. iStock

14. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine Klaus Wolff, Lowell A. Goldsmith, Stephen I. Katz, Barbara A Gilchrest, Amy S. Paller, David J. Leffell Seventh Edition Copyright 2008, 2005, 2001, 1997, 1993 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights reserved.

15. iStock / CDC

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Skin Care & Conditions Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors