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Scabies: Dermatologists offer recommendations on what to do if you contract the human itch mite

Scabies is a common skin condition caused by the human itch mite. People get scabies when the mite burrows into the top layer of their skin to live and feed. When the skin reacts to the mite – which is so small that you would need a microscope to see it – an extremely itchy rash develops.

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“Most people get scabies from direct skin-to-skin contact, although it’s possible to get scabies from infested bedding, clothes and furniture,” said board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, FAAD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. “Since scabies is contagious, it tends to spread easily among children, mothers with young children, and residents of nursing homes and extended care facilities.”

According to dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology, common signs and symptoms of scabies include:

“Scabies can develop anywhere on the skin; however, the mites prefer to burrow in certain parts of the body,” said Dr. Zeichner. “The most common places to have symptoms are the hands, arms and any skin covered by clothing or jewelry, such as the wrist, belt line and groin.”

If you suspect you have scabies, Dr. Zeichner recommends the following tips:

“Medicine to effectively treat scabies is only available with a doctor’s prescription,” said Dr. Zeichner. “If you notice symptoms or are told that you have been around someone who has scabies, see a board-certified dermatologist for treatment.”