What Do Scabies Look Like on Human Skin?

Scabies is a common contagious skin condition caused by Sarcoptes scabiei, a microscopic mite, that burrows into the upper skin layer to drop its eggs. On human skin, scabies looks like a rash or blisters. It can also appear as pimples or small bumps, reports the American Academy of Family Physicians. Scabies, which occurs in 300 million people around the world each year, often spreads by sexual contact with an infected individual. People can also get it by sharing bedding or clothes with someone who is infected. Doctors apply various medicines to the infected skin area to relieve itching and kill the mites.

People can get scabies by prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. (Image: mtcurado/iStock/Getty Images)

Appearance in Human Skin

Scabies appears as a rash or pimples on the skin, reports the Hall Health Primary Care Center. The small bumps or blisters may contain pus and break if scratched, explains the American Academy of Family Physicians. Scabies also manifests as thin wavy lines on human skin, which look like pencil marks. These lines are made by the mites as they burrow into the skin to lay eggs. The lines can be red or dark.

Sores appear on the skin as a result of scratching. Scabs appear and the skin thickens, often with scratches showing, reports the National Institutes of Health. These sores can become infected with bacteria.

Common Areas of Infestation

Scabies-associated rash, pimples or burrows most commonly appear in parts of the body where skin folds, such as elbow creases and the back of the knees, reports the Hall Health Primary Care Center. Signs also frequently appear in the webbed areas between the fingers. Other common sites include the penis, buttocks and shoulder blades.

Nodules

Instead of a rash, some people with scabies develop large skin bumps, which can be up to 1/4 inch wide, reports Aetna InteliHealth. These nodules, which are red or brown, typically appear in parts of the skin covered by clothes, such as the trunk of the body.

Infestation in Children

Signs of scabies in children under 2 years of age appear widely over their body, with pimples or rash covering their midsection and rashes extending to their neck and head, explains Aetna InteliHealth. The mites can infest their scalps as well, reports MayoClinic.com. Young children and babies also may have a rash on the palms and soles of their feet. Babies may have small blisters filled with pus, reports Aetna InteliHealth.

Appearance in Adults and Older Children

In adults and older children, scabies rashes often have tiny red bumps that resemble insect bites, reports Aetna InteliHealth. Scabies often appears on the abdomen and genitalia in adults and older children, reports MayoClinic.com. It also appears on skin folds at the waist and buttocks. It is often found on the breasts, especially dark areas surrounding the nipples, and on the shoulder blades.

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