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Scabies, mange

What is it?

Scabies (or mange) is a parasitic disease caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei (photo). It is a contagious disease transmitted by direct contact or through interpersonal use of contaminated clothing. The parasite digs tunnels under the skin where the female lays eggs that hatch in about 70-10 days, giving rise to new parasites.

Characteristics and symptoms

The disease present intense itching as main feature, which usually worsens during the night. The typical lesion of scabies is a short linear "track", skin colored or slightly reddish, which corresponds to the tunnels under the skin. This lesion is rarely found because the abrasion caused by scratching makes it unrecognizable.

In most cases, only pin head lesions, scarred or covered by crusts as a consequence of scratching, are found. Is it possible to occur secondary infection of these lesions with appearance of pustules and yellow crusts.

Lesions are mainly seen on the following sites: abdomen, flanks, lower belly, belly button, armpits, elbows, wrists, spaces between the fingers and buttocks.

In men, the genitals are a characteristic location, where lesions become elevated and present intense itching. In women, the nipples are usually affected and, in infants, lesions on the soles and palms are common.

Scabies rarely affects the skin of the neck and face but, in children, these regions may also be affected.


The treatment of scabies involves the application of medicines in the form of lotions on the skin of the whole body, from the neck to the feet, even in places where lesions do not appear or there is no itching. After finishing the first round of treatment, it must be repeated within one week, to reach the parasites that are leaving the eggs. Drugs for the relief of itching should be used, but are not responsible for healing.

The treatment can also be done orally in the form of tablets taken in a single dose, which should also be repeated after 1 week. In cases resistant to treatment, oral and local medications may be associated.

Clothes and bed linen should be changed every day, washed and ironed. Everyone living in the same house who present any kind of itching should be treated at the same time, to prevent recontamination. The fingernails should be scrubbed with appropriate soap for the removal of parasites deposited there by scratching.

In people with good hygiene habits, scabies may be confused with other diseases that cause itching, and the correct diagnosis should be done by a dermatologist who will indicate the best treatment for each case.

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- Head lice, pediculosis
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