Is Scabies Dangerous for Pregnant Mothers?

Known as seven-year itch, the highly contagious skin disease can give thrill to anyone, not only the person infested with it needs medication, but also people in contact with the infested person need special care and attention too. Scabies, although more prevalent in children, it can occur to any age group.

Not expected during pregnancy, it is important that expecting mothers should keep themselves updated on how to treat scabies. Let us first understand that what is scabies and what are the effects on pregnant women.

What is Scabies?

A contagious skin infection usually caused by invasion of human itch mite Sarcoptes scabies. Believed to be spread by direct, prolonged and skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies, the most common symptom of scabies is intense itching and pimple-like skin rash.

Divided into two categories, i.e., scabies and crusted scabies (Norwegian Scabies); according to WHO (World Health Organization), every year more than 300 million cases of scabies are recorded worldwide. If pregnant women have scabies, it is advisable to contact their general physical for advice.

What is Crusted Scabies?

Norwegian or crusted scabies is a more severe in comparison with scabies and is belived to be extremely contagious. Mostly found in people with weak immune systems, the mites overpower the immune system. People with crusted scabies develop thick crust of skin that contains thousands of mites and eggs.

How to recognize Scabies

Once a person is exposed to scabies, it can take four to six weeks before the symptoms start appearing. Mostly, caused by an allergic reaction generated by mite’s saliva, eggs or waste products, the reactions take time to appear. Most active at night, the symptoms of scabies include nightmarish itching and rashes.

Exams and Tests to confirm scabies

Diagnosis is usually based upon the customary appearance and distribution of the rash and on the presence of burrows. However, doctors often confirm the presence of scabies through visual diagnosis by removing a mite from a burrow. The samples are then examined under a microscope to confirm the presence of mites or eggs. (Doctors believe mites live about 2 to 3 days when they are not on a human body.)

If you contract scabies during pregnancy, rest assured that infestation would not affect the fetus. However, do talk to your doctor about your options, as there are no recommended treatments for scabies.

Prevention and Control

All household members must be treated at the same time as the infested person. Bedding, clothing worn by the infested person must be machine-washed and dried using hot water and hot dryer or you can get them dry-cleaned. On the other hand, person with crusted scabies must be treated rapidly and aggressively to avoid outbreaks. Room must be dry cleaned and vacuumed after use.

Treatment of scabies during Pregnancy

There are no official guidelines as to how scabies should be treated during pregnancy. Nevertheless, always remember that treatment should be given to both the infested person and to the household members, especially to those who have prolonged skin contact with an infected person. In addition, one must talk to the health care provider about the benefits and risks of using a prescription medication to treat scabies during pregnancy.


Medications used for treating scabies are generally called scabicides, as they kill mites and their eggs. Available only through doctor prescriptions, scabicides should be applied to all areas of the body from neck to feet and toes. There are two different insecticides that kill insects including, permethrin and Malathion. Both are used for treating scabies. They work by poisoning the scabies mite.

Most pregnant women will be treated topically with permethrin. Two medications you should not take during pregnancy are lindane and ivermectin. However, before taking any medication it is important to keep your doctor or general physician in loop for the same.

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