Looking to lead a stronger, healthier life?
Sign up for our Wellness Wire newsletter for all sorts of nutrition, fitness, and wellness wisdom.

Now we’re in this together.
Thanks for subscribing and having us along on your health and wellness journey.

See all Healthline's newsletters »

Scabies Bites: How to know if you've been bit and how to treat

1 of
  • What is scabies?

    What is scabies?

    Scabies is caused by mites that burrow under the upper layer of human skin, feeding on blood and laying eggs. Scabies is extremely itchy and causes grey lines on the skin along with red bumps. Scabies mites are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, or by extended contact with the clothing, bedding, or towels of an infected person. People of any class or race can get scabies. It can be difficult to treat. They are most common where living conditions are crowded.

  • What do scabies look like?

    What do scabies look like?

    Scabies is caused by the mite known as the Sarcoptes scabiei. These microscopic mites are very tiny and cannot be seen. They have a round body and eight legs.

  • How to identify scabies

    How to identify scabies

    You cannot see scabies, so you have to identify them by the rash. Here are a few key indicators:

    1. The most common symptom of scabies is a rash and intense itching that gets worse at night.
    2. The scabies rash looks like blisters or pimples: pink, raised bumps with a clear top filled with fluid. Sometimes they appear in a row.
    3. Scabies also can cause unsightly grey lines on the skin along with red bumps.
    4. The skin may have red and scaly patches.
    5. Scabies mites attack the entire body, but they particularly like the skin around the hands and feet.

    Scabies looks similar to rashes caused by:

    • dermatitis
    • syphilis
    • poison ivy
    • other parasites, such as fleas
  • Getting rid of scabies

    Getting rid of scabies

    Treatment is usually a topical medication that is prescribed by a doctor.

    To help relieve some of the bothersome symptoms associated with scabies, your doctor may also prescribe additional medications to control itching and swelling.

    Itching may continue for weeks, even if the first application of medicine works. Be sure to remain on the lookout for new tracks or bumps. These signs may be indications that a second treatment is necessary. Anyone exposed to scabies should be treated.

    Get specific treatment recommendations here

  • How scabies breed

    How scabies breed

    Scabies eggs are laid under the skin and hatch into larvae after about four days. In another four days, the mites are mature and ready to lay the next generation of eggs. This cycle continues until halted by medical treatment. Scabies can live and breed on your skin for several weeks before your immune system has an allergic reaction and symptoms appear.

    Also scabies mites don’t live on animals. They crawl and are unable to jump or fly. Scabies mites cannot live away from a human host for more than three days, but they can survive for one to two months with a host.

  • Can bed bugs cause scabies?

    Can bed bugs cause scabies?

    No, as mentioned, scabies is caused by a very tiny mite that has a round body and eight legs. Whereas, bed bugs are small, flat, oval-shaped insects with six legs. Scabies must live in the skin to feed and breed. Bed bugs do not live in the skin. They feed on blood from humans or animals, and mostly active at night, feeding on their victims while they sleep.

    Also, scabies are generally smaller than bed bugs. When fully grown, each mite is no bigger than the size of the point of a pin. Bed bugs are a reddish-brown color and can be between 1 and 7 millimeters.

  • When scabies is severe

    When scabies is severe

    The mere thought of playing host to a family of scabies mites is frightening in and of itself. It should be noted, however, that scabies mites don’t transmit diseases. That said, extensive scratching could cause secondary infection, including impetigo.

    In rare instances, Norwegian, or crusted, scabies can develop. Usually this more severe version only develops as a result of a weakened immune system or when a scabies infestation goes untreated for months or years.