Scabies is a parasitic infection that causes a persistent, itchy rash. It is caused by a tiny mite that burrows into the top layer of the skin to lay its eggs. This results in groups of small red limps. When the rash first appears, you may see fine, wavy emanating from some of the lumps if you look closely. The skin may then become dry and scaly, and the itching can be intense, especially at night.
Scabies can be a particular problem in institutional settings such as nursing homes and day care centers. It is spread primarily by skin- to-skin contact, and it is highly contagious. The area’s most commonly affected are the buttocks, genitals, wrists and armpits as well as the skin between the toes and fingers.
To diagnose the condition, a physician usually takes a scraping of skin from the affected area and examines it under a microscope. If one family member develops scabies, all the members of the household should be checked.
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