Scabies is an unpleasant skin disease. It used to be quite common in the past, but generally improving hygienic conditions caused its decrease.


The scabies is caused by a parasitic mite known as the sarcoptes scabiei. The infection starts when the female mites get into the skin. The transmission occurs by a close contact with an infected person. It spreads easily in communities with low hygienic standards.


Female mites crawl through the skin and produce small tunnels. The most affected skin is a thin skin between the fingers, the skin on the penis, foreskin, scrotum and the skin on the wrists. The skin affection is itchy and there may be visible reddish lines corresponding with the mite corridors. The itching worsens when the skin gets sweaty or warmed up. The affected person usually scratches the skin, which increases the risk of secondary bacterial infections (secondary impetigo).


The diagnosis is usually confirmed by a dermatologist. When the situation is unclear, it is possible to obtain a tissue sample of the affected skin and let it examine under a microscope with a good chance of finding the mites.


The risk of infection may be decreased by adequate hygienic habits.


The treatment usually includes local applications of various preparations in form of ointments. The therapy should be combined with rigorous hygiene, particularly regular washing and ironing of personal clothing. Secondary bacterial infection of scratched skin areas is cured by antibiotics.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources