Just the thought of a human skin mite infection can make your skin crawl. Human skin mites are a type of arachnid called sarcoptes scabiei, more commonly known as scabies. They burrow just under the surface of the skin to lay their eggs. Both adults and children can be infected with scabies, and it is highly contagious.
Itching is usually the first sign of a scabies infection. This is caused by an allergic reaction to the waste products left by the parasites and by the parasites themselves burrowing into the skin. Itching from a scabies infection tends to be worse at night and at the points of infection.
A rash on the skin at the site of infection or on other parts of the body is another symptom of skin mites. The rash can appear as red, raised bumps or can look like blisters or pimples. In adults, the most common rash locations are at the elbows, knees or genital area. In children, they can also appear on the face, palms or soles of the feet.
Sores are a secondary symptom of a scabies infection and are usually caused by scratching the skin mite rash. Scratching opens up the blisters or pimple-like bumps on the skin, and these areas become infected. That creates an open sore or a sore that has a crusty appearance. Some crusted sores can also indicate a high concentration of skin mites under that sore.
Skin mites are very small, and they cannot be seen with the naked eye. However, female skin mites burrow just under the skin's surface to lay eggs. This can sometimes be seen on the surface of the skin as a very thin line. These lines can be difficult to see, but they can be used to confirm that a rash or itchiness is being caused by a scabies infection.
Scabies infections are highly contagious. They can be passed along through direct contact with someone infected with scabies. They can also be transmitted by sharing bedding or clothing with an infected person. It can take up to two months for a person infected with scabies to show signs of infection. It's usually recommended that all household members or sexual partners be treated at the same time to prevent reinfection.