Symptoms of Scabies

Key Points

  • The most common symptoms of scabies are itching and a rash.
  • Even if you do not have symptoms, you can still spread scabies.


The most common signs and symptoms of scabies are intense itching (pruritus), especially at night, and a pimple-like (papular) itchy rash.

These symptoms are caused by your body's reaction to the mite and its eggs and feces (i.e, an allergy). Common areas on body where rashes occur include

  • between fingers,
  • in the skin folds of the wrist, elbow, knee, or armpit, and
  • on the penis, nipples, waist, buttocks, and shoulder blades.

Infants and very young children often experience a rash on the head, face, neck, palms, and soles of the feet.

Female scabies mites can also cause tiny burrows just beneath the surface of the skin. These burrows look like tiny raised, crooked (serpiginous) lines on the skin surface. They can be grayish-white or skin colored. The burrows may be difficult to find because there may only be 10 – 15 mites present.

3 – 6 weeks

If you have never had scabies, symptoms can take up to three to six weeks to appear. However, you can still spread scabies even if you do not have symptoms.

1 – 4 days

If you have had scabies before, symptoms typically appear one to four days after exposure.

Complications and when to seek help

If you suspect you have scabies or complications from scabies, contact your healthcare provider. Repeated scratching of an area can cause skin sores. These sores can become infected with bacteria on the skin, such as Staphylococcus aureus or beta-hemolytic streptococci, and may need antibiotics. In severe cases, bacterial skin infections can lead to inflammation or damage of the kidneys. This is called post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.