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Microscopic mite causing a contagious, intensely itchy skin condition. Presents with itchy papular rash (on abdomen or thigh, itch most intense at night), and burrows (tiny grey irregular tracks) in digital web spaces and on flexor wrist surfaces. Typically, infestation is with 10-12 adult mites. Scabies can affect children, young adults and the elderly in every community. Spread is by skin-to-skin contact so occurs readily in families. Crusted or ‘Norwegian’ scabies is a highly contagious variant in which there are thousands or even millions of mites but little itch; this is the usual cause of severe outbreaks of scabies in institutions, e.g. nursing homes, prisons.

New Zealand Dermatological Society (DermNet NZ)Scabies (illustrated)

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