If you think you or someone close to you may have Scabies, it is important to confirm this so that treatment can be started right away.

There are many skin conditions that can cause itchiness, such as dermatitis of various kinds, dry skin during the winter, insect bites, or diseases like Chickenpox.  However, Scabies is unique in that it is characterized by the burrows that the Scabies mites create in the skin.  No other dermatological condition is quite like the “tracks” found in a Scabies infestation.  The burrows can be from 5mm to up to 10 cm in length, and are in either straight or wavy lines.  Scabies causes severe itchiness, often much worse at night.

Another sign of Scabies is where the rash is commonly found:  in the webs of the fingers and creases of the skin in the palms, wrists, elbows, and knees, as well as in the armpits, the naval area, and the genital area.

One test for Scabies is the ink test.  This involves marking the skin with a large marker and then wiping the ink off with an alcohol pad.  Scabies tracks will remain visible after the ink is removed, as the ink will have soaked in.


Doctors can also diagnose Scabies by examining a patient for burrows, which are typically linear, or a rash.  A doctor may need to take a skin scraping and then examine it under a microscope for the mites, eggs, or fecal matter from the mites.  It may be necessary to see a dermatologist for a diagnosis, though you may have a difficult time getting a near-term appointment unless you specifically state that you suspect you have Scabies.     (See also:  http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Scabies/Pages/Diagnosis.aspx)

Because it is common for a healthy adult’s body to have only between 6 and 12 mites, it may be advisable to treat for Scabies even if a mite cannot be located through a skin scraping.

Always remember that Scabies is 100% treatable.  You or your loved one suffering from Scabies can overcome this condition!


Helm, Klaus F., and James G. Marks. Atlas of Differential Diagnosis in Dermatology. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1998. P.147, 159.

Sutton, Amy L. Dermatological Disorders Sourcebook: Basic Consumer Health Information about Conditions and Disorders Affecting the Skin, Hair, and Nails … Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2006. P.396.

Davies, Julian, MD. “Ink Test for Scabies.” AdoptMed. Center for Adoption Medicine, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.  http://adoptmed.org/tips/ink-test-for-scabies.html

Fitzpatrick, Thomas B., Richard Allen Johnson, and Klaus Wolff. Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology: Common and Serious Diseases. New York: McGraw-Hill, Medical Pub. Division, 2001. Pp.836.


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