Scabies is a contagious (catching) disorder of the skin caused by very small; wingless insects or mites called the Human Itch mite or Scabies itch mite Sarcoptes scabiei.
The female insect burrows into the skin where she lays 1 - 3 eggs daily. A very small, hard to see, zigzag blister usually marks the trail of the insect as she lays her eggs. Other more obvious symptoms are an intense itching (especially at night) and a red rash that can occur at the area that has been scratched. The most common locations for scabies are on the sides of fingers, between the fingers, on the backs of the hands, on the wrists, heels, elbows, armpits, inner thighs and around the waist (belt line). If untreated, the female will continue to lay eggs for about five weeks. The eggs hatch and the new mites begin the cycle all over again. The mites themselves are too small to be seen without magnification. One of the great problems with scabies always has been misdiagnosis. Scabies is spread by personal contact, e.g., by shaking hands or sleeping together or by close contact with infected articles such as clothing, bedding or towels. It is usually found where people are crowded together or have frequent contact, and is most common among school children, families, roommates, and sexual partners. Scabies can be spread by the insect itself or by the egg. Prompt action is required to rid a person of the insects and eggs.