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Heat Emergency in Boston
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Mayor Wu announced a heat emergency in the City of Boston through Wednesday, July 17. Cooling centers will be open at 14 BCYF community centers Monday through Wednesday, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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Scabies

This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about scabies.

Scabies is a common infestation, caused by tiny mites that live under the skin. The mites cannot survive off the human body for more than 48-72 hours.

The basics

Who gets scabies?

Anyone can get scabies despite socioeconomic status, good health habits and good hygiene. Scabies spreads easily to household contacts. 

How is scabies spread?

Scabies spreads by direct skin-to-skin contact with a person already infested with scabies. In rare cases, a person could get scabies by sharing the clothing, towels, or bedding of an infected person.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of scabies?

People with scabies have intense itching, especially at night. The areas of the skin most affected with pimple-like irritation and itching include:

  • the webs of the fingers
  • wrists
  • armpits
  • waist
  • groin
  • shoulder blades
  • thighs
  • skin folds

Sometimes people will develop sores on their body caused by scratching. 

How soon do symptoms appear?

Symptoms may begin after 4-6 weeks. A person that has had scabies in the past may develop symptoms within several days. 

When and for how long is a person able to spread scabies?

When living on a person, the adult female mite can live up to a month. A person can spread scabies until mites and eggs get destroyed. 

Treatment & prevention

What is the treatment for scabies?

Health care providers can prescribe lotions to treat scabies. Follow directions provided by the health care provider or on the package insert. Apply lotion to a clean body from the neck down (not on the face or scalp) and leave on overnight (8 hours). Shower to wash off the lotion after 8 hours and put on clean clothes. Wash all bedding, clothes and towels used by infected persons in hot water and then use a hot clothes dryer. You may need a second treatment 7-10 days later. Pregnant women and children need a milder medication.

How do you prevent scabies?

Avoid direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with the belongings of those that have scabies. Those that may have scabies exposure should seek medical care for possible treatment.

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