Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What is a Scabies rash?
This is a very contagious skin infection. It is often called the seven-year itch or sarcoptic mange. It is spread through human contact or by sharing bedding and towels of an infected person.
This can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, standards of personal hygiene, race, or where you live. This rash affects over three hundred million people worldwide each year.
What does scabies rash look like?
The scabies rash looks like small red bumps or blisters and may contain pus. The rash can also look like wavy lines that can be red or dark colored which are similar to pencil marks
Scabies Rash Symptoms
Many times the symptoms do not appear until two to six weeks after any infestation occurs. If you have had scabies before the rash may appear in one to four days after being infested.
The reason that it takes long for the rash to appear if you have never had scabies is that it takes time for your body to develop a reaction to the mites.
Once the symptoms start showing up the itching that is associated with the rash can intensify and be persistent. Many people report that it is most troublesome at thing at night as it can affect your sleep.
In adult the rash and/or itchy blisters can appear on your chest, the webbing between your toes and finger, fold of your elbow or wrist, soles of your feet, your ankles, underarm area, behind your knees, your lower buttock area, and your shoulders.
In children you will see the rash prominently on their scalp, neck, face, sole of their feet, and the palms of their hands. Many times when a person has a scabies rash it will appear on areas of your body where there is no mite infestation.
Other symptoms include:
- Intense, persistent itching, especially at night
- Having small bites that look like insect bites, hives, or knots under your skin.
- Having open sores or scabs that are susceptible to infection.
- You may also notice scaly patches that looks like eczema
This rash is because of the invasion of scabies mites on your skin referred to as Sarcoptes Scabiei mite. It is a tiny eight legged female creature that burrows under your skin and creates tunnels just below the epidermis, which is the upper layer of your skin.
The male mites enter the burrows, mates, and then dies. This mite will use the burrows they made to lay dozens of eggs three to four days after mating which hatch in approximately twenty-one days. Approximately fourteen days later they become adults and repeat the life cycle.
Because your skin cannot tolerate the burrowing of these mites and your immune system’s reaction to not only the presence of the mite but their larvae, feces, and saliva, it will respond in the form of a rash.
The scabies rash is easily treated when you use prescription medications that will kill the mites that are causing the rash. Many times when you have this rash you will see your dermatologist for the medication since they deal with skin conditions.
Once it has been diagnosed that it is a scabies rash they will usually prescribe a medication that contains a scabicide, which will kill the mites. The medication comes in a shampoo, cream, or lotion. After applying these scabicide lotions and creams you need to leave them on for eight to ten hours and these wash it off using cool water.
Some of the medications that are used can include:
- Permethrin – this most commonly prescribed medication cream. It is normally administered in two applications with seven days before the applications. It is also very safe to use.
- Lindane – this medication is sometime prescribed because if the person is pregnant, nursing, or very young it is not safe to use. It comes in the form of shampoo, cream, or lotion and apply in two applications with seven days between each application.
- Crotamiton – this medication contains no chemicals and is harmless to infants so it is safe to used on infants.
You may also be prescribed topical applications like Scabene, Nix, or Elimite. Once you apply it on your body you need to leave it on for ten to twelve hours and then washed off.
If there are other people in your house that have scabies rash your dermatologist may suggest that other people in your house be treated also.
The itching that is associated with scabies rash can continue to irritate you even after you get rid of the mites. To help with this intense itching you can:
- Use calamine lotion on the areas where you itch
- Soak in a tub of cool water
- Using an over-the-counter medication anti-itching lotion or a prescription for a stronger anti-itching cream
- Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine, like Benadryl, or prescription antihistamine, to help to reduce the itching.
In addition to the medication to kill the mites you will also need to make sure that you eliminate the mites along with their eggs are eliminated from your home in order to prevent re-infestation. You should make sure that you wash in very hot water clothing and bedding so any mites left behind are killed. You also need to make sure that you are vacuuming your upholstered furniture and carpeting to get rid of any mites and their eggs.
If you do not want to use prescription medications you can use natural remedies to try get rid of these mites. What you would need to use is neem oil, which is an active ingredient in different skin care products. You can take a bath using neem soap or applying diluted neem seed oil to the areas affected by the scabies rash. Using this natural method will help give you relief from the unbearable itching and help you get a better nights sleep.
If the itching does not seem to be getting better, the itching gets worse, or it starts to spread you should talk to your dermatologist for treatment.