What is the appearance of scabies burrows, and which body areas are most affected?

Updated: Oct 13, 2020
  • Author: Megan Barry, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Answer

Burrows are a pathognomonic sign and represent the intraepidermal tunnel created by the moving female mite. They appear as serpiginous, grayish, threadlike elevations in the superficial epidermis, ranging from 2-10 mm long, as seen in the image below.

A typical linear burrow on the flexor forearm. Cou A typical linear burrow on the flexor forearm. Courtesy of Kenneth E. Greer, MD.

They are not readily apparent and must be actively sought. A black dot may be seen at one end of the burrow, indicating the presence of a mite. High-yield locations for burrows include the following:

  • Webbed spaces of the fingers

  • Flexor surfaces of the wrists

  • Elbows

  • Axillae

  • Belt line

  • Feet

  • Scrotum (men)

  • Areolae (women)


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