Diagnosis of Scabies

By  , Expert Content
Apr 04, 2012

Scabies can be diagnosed clinically. The doctor will ask about your symptoms, perform a physical exam and if needed, recommend certain tests.

Medical history: Some questions that your doctor may ask include:

  • Is the itching severe?
  • Does the itching become worse at night?
  • Do other members in your family also complain of itching?

Physical examination: Your doctor will examine the skin to look for burrows or rash on the skin and pay particular attention to:

  • Location of rash and signs of mites.
  • Appearance of rash.
  • Other symptoms that you may have.

Clinical diagnosis of scabies is made based on observing typical lesions on wrists, finger web spaces, axillae, penis or thighs or on symptoms such as itching, which is more severe at night, especially after a hot shower/bath. Your doctor may diagnose scabies if there is an exposure to an infected person even if the symptoms are non-specific.

Diagnosis through skin scraping: Diagnosis of scabies can be confirmed by taking a skin scraping and seeing mites, eggs or mite faecal matter on microscopic examination. If a burrow is seen, the doctor may take a scraping from that area of your skin to examine under a microscope. Microscopic examination can determine the presence of mites or their eggs. Even if a skin scraping or biopsy is negative, it is possible that you have scabies. Most people with scabies have no more than 10-15 live mites even when they have hundreds of bumps and pimples. Hence, an infestation can easily be missed.



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