Scabies is one of the common and very itchy skin conditions that is caused by human scabies mites. It can affect people of any age but is most common in the young and the elderly.
What causes scabies?
The mites that cause scabies are known to be tiny parasites, smaller than a pinhead.  They are generally picked up by direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who already has scabies, and very rarely from objects such as clothing or bedding.  Pets do not spread this condition.
People who are having scabies get an average of about a dozen adult mites on their skin a few carry many more. Being dirty does not cause scabies.
Rarely, a type of scabies called crusted scabies can happen in patients who are immunosuppressed or who are elderly and unwell. There are number of scabies mites on the skin in this variant and it is highly contagious.
Is scabies hereditary?
No, but it is common for several members of a family to have it at the same time.
What does scabies look like?
The rash happens because of scabies is a mixture of scratch marks and red scaly areas later it can become infected and develop small pus spots.
A widespread rash which is similar to eczema (dermatitis) is very common nowadays. This itchy rash covers most of the skin but the mites are found in the web spaces of the fingers and on the palms of the hands, the wrists, ankles and soles of the feet.
The scabies mites get into the skin in these areas to lay their eggs. Burrows is seen as a small greyish lines on the skin.
Adult mites are small, only about 0.4 mm long, appearing through a lens as a tiny dark dot lying at the end of a burrow. During crusted scabies, the rash can replicate psoriasis and may not cause intense itching.
How is the diagnosis of scabies made?
Your doctor will be able to diagnose scabies on the basis of the story and on examination of the rash. Scrapings from a burrow can be looked at under the microscope for mites and their eggs.
Can scabies be cured?
If this condition is not treated, scabies lasts for months or even years but with the right treatment, it clears up quickly and completely. Still after the mites have been killed by treatment, the itching generally persists for a few weeks.
What are the symptoms of scabies?
Itching is the main symptom of scabies, generally starting about a month after the mites were picked up.  The itching affects the body and limbs but normally spares the head and neck, except in infants.
The itch often gets worse in bed at night. It is common for several people in the same family, and their friends, to become itchy at roughly the same time.