Types of Scabies

People sometimes ask us if there are different types of scabies. Well, symptoms of scabies may sometimes vary but there is only one mite that causes the condition, the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. When people talk about different types of scabies, they are usually referring to the different ways the rash can appear.

Most of the time, scabies causes tiny blisters on the skin along with thread-like red lines where the mites have tunneled below the skin. The rash usually appears in folds of skin, like between the fingers, under the breasts, around the genitals, behind the knees and on the inside of the elbows. In infants, the rash sometimes appears on the face or scalp.

Rarely, scabies causes a thickening of the skin and a crusty rash. It’s called Norwegian scabies or crusted scabies and when it occurs, it indicates that there are many more mites than usual under the skin.

You can prevent all types of scabies the same way. Avoid close contact with infected people. Also, do not share clothing, towels or bed linens with infected people. Unfortunately, people often do not develop the telltale symptoms of scabies until they’ve been infected for a little while. They can still pass the mites on to other people during that time, though.

Most doctors recommend that you get treatment for scabies anytime you learn that you’ve been exposed to the condition, even if you aren’t yet showing symptoms. The condition will be easier to treat before the mites have had the chance to multiply and spread.

For the typical scabies infection, doctors usually recommend a medicated skin cream like Permethrin. Permethrin contains pesticides that are absorbed through your skin to kill the mites that cause scabies. While it usually kills the mites, Permethrin sometimes makes some symptoms of scabies worse for a time, like the severe itching. Permethrin has not been proven to be safe or effective for children and it is unclear how it affects pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Of all types of scabies, Norwegian scabies is usually the most difficult to treat. It may respond to prescription skin creams, but doctors sometimes recommend an oral medication called Ivermectin for that condition. Ivermectin is also frequently prescribed in cases in which prescription skin creams don’t do the job. Many people hesitate to use Ivermectin, though, due to the potential for side effects, including diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, joint pain, fainting and seizures. Pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children under the age of five are usually advised against taking Ivermectin.

Some people prefer to use a natural treatment for scabies so they can avoid the potential side effects of prescription drugs. You can also avoid a trip to the doctor if you decide to go with a natural treatment and natural treatments may cost less than prescription medications, too. All natural treatments are not created equal, some work better than others, but some natural treatments for scabies are just as effective as prescription drugs.

If your symptoms of scabies resemble crusted scabies, you may need to see a doctor since that condition can be harder to treat than the typical scabies infection. See a doctor if your scabies does not improve with treatment.

More than the types of scabies on our how to treat scabies page

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