Scabies is a contagious skin infection caused by a parasite, the itch mite. The life cycle of itch mites depends on oxygen; they do not intrude further from the corneal layer of the epidermis (the superficial layer of the skin). Scabies can be contracted through direct skin-to-skin contact which means close physical contact with an infected person (e.g. sexual partner) or prolonged physical contact (e.g. parents and children).
Symptoms typically appear 3-6 weeks after infection: intense itching, which becomes severe in the evenings, fine papulous rash (papulae appear in pairs) and crusts. The usual places of the rash to occur are in the area of the finger webs, ventral wrists, breasts, stomach folds of the skin, buttocks, thighs, and genitals. In children and the elderly, the rash may affect the face, palms and soles.
- All family members and any others who have had contact with the infected individual are treated at the same time, regardless if they have symptoms (already) or not.
- Medication is administered on the entire body (except for the head in adults).
- Hands are covered with medication again after washing them with water and soap.
- Clothing and bedding must be changed both when the treatment begins and ends.
- After treatment, clothing must be washed at least at 60°C, outerwear dry-cleaned (or not used for 3–4 days).