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Crusted Scabies

This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about crusted scabies.

Scabies is a skin condition caused by tiny parasites (mites) that get under the skin. "Crusted scabies" is a severe type of scabies.

The basics

Who gets crusted scabies?

Anyone can get scabies, but "crusted scabies" is more common in seniors, people with weak immune systems, or people who are unable to itch or scratch because of problems like paralysis. People with crusted scabies are very contagious and can easily pass scabies to other people.


What are the symptoms of crusted scabies?

Usually scabies causes severe itching, but not everyone with scabies gets itching. Some people will have a skin rash.

How is scabies spread?

Scabies spreads by direct contact (skin to skin) with someone who has scabies. You may also get scabies if you come into contact with contaminated things like clothes or bedding from infected people. 

How soon do symptoms appear?

Symptoms can take up to 2 months to appear after exposure. A person who had scabies before may show symptoms sooner.

How long is someone with scabies contagious?

People with scabies can spread it until they receive treatment. Without a human host the parasites usually do not survive more than 72 hours. 


How can I prevent scabies?

  • Whenever possible, avoid directly touching a skin rash
  • If you are taking care of someone with scabies, use protection like gowns, disposable gloves, and shoe covers
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after any contact, even if you are wearing protective clothing
  • Thoroughly clean and vacuum the room of people with crusted scabies to remove skin crusts and scales that can contain mites
  • Put bedding and clothes used by a person with scabies in a plastic bag and emptied directly into a washer to avoid spreading infection. This includes any clothes or bedding used in the three days before a person receives treatment. Machine wash and dry all items using the hot water and high heat cycles (at least 122°F for 10 minutes)
  • Seal unwashable items such as mattresses, in plastic bags and do not touch them for at least 72 hours
  • Use protective clothes and gloves when touching any contaminated items
  • Continue these precautions until the person with crusted scabies has been treated twice (a week apart)


What is the treatment for crusted scabies?

People with scabies need medicine prescribed by a healthcare provider. Medicine may be lotions or pills. Treatment involves at least two doses of medicine given a week apart. People who have been exposed to scabies may also need treatment. After one day of treatment, people can return to work and/or school.

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