How do Dermatologists Diagnose Scabies?

How do Dermatologists Diagnose Scabies?

Scabies – Issues in Diagnosis

Scabies is a highly contagious skin condition that is not really easy to diagnose. This is so because the scabies is somewhat similar in appearance to other skin ailments like bedbug bite, eczema, and psoriasis. Another reason is that scabies is cause by the Sarcoptes scabiei which are not visible to the naked eyes, and can be seen only through the microscope, unlike bedbugs. Moreover, it takes time for the symptoms to appear completely which makes it difficult to diagnose the ailment early. Also, there is no such particular symptom of scabies other that intense itching, which varies from person-to-person. This means that this is not a compulsion for every scabies affectant to feel no itching or less itching.

Due to these issues, often the scabies gets misdiagnosed. So, here arises an important question that how can a dermatologist identify scabies in a patient? Here’s the answer:

Scabies – Dermatological diagnosis

Often dermatologists diagnose scabies by visually examining a patient’s skin from head to toe. However, it does not always give right results.

There are mainly two types of test to diagnose scabies for full proof confirmation.

  • Ink Test: In this test, the doctor marks the suspected area with a washable marker and cleans the ink later with an alcoholic cloth. The areas where the burrows are present will show an outline of the ink and appear like dark streaks. 
  • Scraping Test: To make sure that a patient has scabies, the dermatologist scrapes off a tiny bit of skin. He/she then puts the skin bit on a glass slide and checks it under a microscope. If the dermatologist sees scabies mites or their eggs, it becomes evident that the person has scabies.

How do dermatologists treat scabies?

It is very essential to treat scabies to get rid of it. The person diagnosed with scabies and every other person who had close contact with the affectant need treatment. People with no signs or symptoms must also be cured. This is the only way to prevent new outbreaks of scabies in near future. People who should be treated include:

  • Everyone who lives with the person.
  • Recent sexual partners.

The best part about the scabies treatment is that the creams are available over the counter. Topical creams are available that can be applied over the skin to treat scabies. These medicines are often applied to all skin from the neck down. Infants and young children often need treatment for their scalp and face, too.

Most medicines are applied 2-3 times a day. However, it is important to follow your dermatologist’s instructions properly for effective results. This is because treating the skin more often than instructed can worsen the rash and itching.

Medicines that may be prescribed include:

  • Dr. Scabies
  • 25% Benzyl benzoate lotion.
  • 10% Sulfur ointment. 
  • 10% Crotamiton cream.

Treatment for widespread scabies: If the scabies get worsen, such as crusted scabies, it requires stronger medicines to get treated. A patient with this type of scabies may receive a prescription for Ivermectin – an oral drug, in addition to the topical ointments. This medicine can also be taken by the children and patients who are HIV-positive. The dose of Ivermectin may vary from patient to patient. The pills are usually taken one week apart.


Treatment helps get rid of the mites, remove symptoms such as itch, and treat an infection that has developed. Usually, the first few days of a week are difficult for the patient as the rash and itch can worsen during treatment. However, within 4 weeks, the skin should heal.

If your skin isn’t healed within 4 weeks, you may probably still have mites. If this is the case, be sure to see your dermatologist immediately for further treatment. Do not ever use a scabicide which is used to treat crops or livestock to treat scabies.

People who get Norwegian scabies, also known as crusted scabies, often need repeated treatments to get rid of the thousands of mites.

Preventing Scabies

To prevent getting scabies again, you have to do more than just treating the skin or taking a pill. Make sure to wash or laundry clothes, bedding, and towels to get rid of mites that may have fallen off your skin. Also, you should vacuum your entire home repeatedly. Avoid any prolonged direct contact with the patient and do not use the belongings of the patient too.

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