Diagnosis of Scabies or Mange

Scabies, called sarcoptic mange in animals, is an itchy skin infection caused by sarcopte mites when they burrow into the outer skin layer. Scabies in animals is a variant of the mite that affects humans and is not transmissible across species; however, the condition and diagnosis are the same.


Sarcopte mites have eight legs, are approximately one-eighth millimeter in length and not visible to the naked eye.


A person contracts a scabies infection from skin-to-skin contact with another infected person. The mite spreads rapidly in crowded conditions. It is rare to get an infection through casual contact as direct physical contact with the point of infection is needed. Animals do not spread the human scabies mite.


A physician will evaluate the rash and appearance of insect burrows to make a diagnosis. In addition, a skin scraping is evaluated for the presence of the mite’s fecal matter and eggs to substantiate the diagnosis.


A misdiagnosis of scabies is often due to the symptoms initially being similar to mosquito bites or pimples. In those cases, the infection will worsen in several weeks to a point where diagnosis is easily made.


The only prevention for scabies is avoiding direct contact with an infected person. The clothing and bedding of an infected family member must be washed using very hot water to prevent spreading.