What does scabies on the penis look like?

By | March 12, 2019
Scabies is an infestation of tiny parasitic mites and can affect any part of a person’s skin, including on the penis. The mites spread by close, prolonged skin-to-skin touching, such as sexual contact.

Scabies mites, known scientifically as Sarcoptes scabiei var hominis, are microscopic parasites that burrow into the top layer of a person’s skin. Here, they lay their eggs and cause intense itching.

The mites tend to prefer warm places, such as skin folds and the genital areas. On the penis and scrotum, they can lead to a crusted, blister-like rash developing.

In this article, we discuss what scabies is, the symptoms it causes on the penis, transmission, and risk factors. We also cover diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of scabies.

What is scabies?

Scabies is a skin infestation with tiny parasitic mites that are barely visible to the naked eye. The mites burrow into the top layer of a person’s skin where they lay their eggs.

The mites prefer warm locations, such as between folds of skin, and tend to infest body areas that include:

  • the groin region
  • the penis and scrotum
  • the thighs and buttocks
  • the waist area
  • under the breasts
  • the skin between fingers and toes

About 4 to 6 weeks after the initial infestation, people with scabies develop an immune reaction to the mites. This reaction causes a scaly rash that may itch, crust, or ooze.

Scratching the rash can lead to bacterial infections and impetigo.

Children, older people, and those with weakened immune systems are at particular risk of developing severe complications from impetigo. These complications can include cellulitis, skin abscesses, and sepsis.

Most people with scabies have only a dozen or so mites on their body. However, a severe form of scabies called crusted scabies, or Norwegian scabies, can infest a person with millions of mites.

Crusted scabies is more likely to occur in people with weakened immune systems, such as older individuals and those living with HIV.