Sarcoptic Mange

The Organism and How It Lives

Sarcoptic mange, also sometimes called scabies, is caused by the microscopic mite Sarcoptes Scabiei. Adult mites live 3-4 weeks on and in the host’s skin. After mating the female burrows under the skin depositing 3-4 eggs in the tunnel behind her. The eggs hatch in 3-10 days producing larva which crawl out from under the skin leaving behind residue, and in turn move about on the skin’s surface eventually molting into a “nymphal” stage and finally into an adult. The adults move about on the surface of the skin where they mate, and the cycle begins again with the female burrowing and laying her eggs. The female presence under the skin generates an inflamed response in the skin similar to an allergic reaction.

Dogs with Sarcoptic Mange dig and bite at themselves with great ferocity due to the terrible itching caused by the mites. Their skin reacts with oozing sores, and a secondary infection may set in, requiring treatment with an antibiotic in addition to treatment to kill the mites themselves. Unless the veterinarian parts the hair and carefully examines the bare skin for the characteristic pinpoint bite marks, diagnosis is difficult. Unfortunately, the sarcoptic mange mites can be difficult to find in skin scrapings when all the mites are burrowed under the surface of the skin when the scraping is taken, and the scabs are picked up in the skin scrapings also. The vet then has to examine the scrapings under a microscope. Furthermore, the presence of a secondary skin infection can hamper the search for the mite bite marks. Because of these conditions, it may take the vet more than one skin scraping to correctly identify the presence and this type of mite that causes dog mange.

Telltale signs of canine sarcoptic mange are crusty ear tips, fierce itching, and hair loss, particularly on the ears, elbows, legs, awful scratching and a very unpleasant smell. Later on, the hair loss may spread throughout the dog’s entire body including the face, and open oozing sores develop due to scratching which are then aggravated by fleas which feed on the open sores. The existence of other skin conditions, infections and allergies are also possible and can cause complications as a symptom of dog mange..

Appearance of the Disease

The motion of the mites on and in the skin is extremely itchy. The presence of mites and their eggs generates a massive allergic response, which makes it even more itchy. Mites prefer hairless skin thus making the ear flaps, elbows and abdomen at highest risk for the red, scaly, itchy skin that characterizes sarcoptic mange. This pattern of itching is similar to that found with both airborne and food allergic reactions. The only way the vet can know for sure is to take skin scrapings and look at them under a microscope to identify the type of mite causing the problem. If there are no mites on the surface of the skin when the skin scraping is taken, then the vet will have take another skin scraping another day. Frequently, veterinarians will simply treat for mange as a precaution to rule it out, before exploring other possibilities for the dog’s skin condition.


Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious to canines, humans, and furry wild animals especially red foxes, squirrels and coyotes, even deer, horses and donkeys, because the mites easily jump from one animal to another. If dogs share sleeping places or if the infested dog sleeps on beds or furniture or in the family car, everyone will begin scratching. It is not unheard of for the family dog to infest the kids, the kids to infest their playmates, and the playmates to infest their pets and parents. Fortunately, mites on humans are self-limiting. Even though the mites can burrow under human skin and cause itching, it cannot complete its life cycle on human skin and dies within a few days/weeks. Even so, the itching is terrible in the meantime. You can use the Maui Wowie Mange Buster® Remedy on your own skin (unless you are allergic to the ingredients), but be sure to use a good moisturizing cream after treatment.

Identification and Treatment

Definite diagnosis of sarcoptic mange is difficult even by a vet, because the microscopic mites burrow under the skin and this can make skin scrapings ineffective in finding the mites, and because of being complicated by the scabs and possible secondary infections. Veterinarian treatment has been simplified by the injection of Ivermectin in two doses, two weeks apart, to kill the mites. Ivermectin is very toxic and can cause side affects. Itching usually begins to subside within a few days of the first dose of Ivermectin, however the condition can return with the next batch of mites that comes along. Steroids may be prescribed short term to relieve the itching and give the dog some relief until the mites begin to die off. The problem with steroids is that they weaken the dog’s immune system which then reduces the dog’s ability to heal. If all the mites are not killed with the Ivermectin treatments, they will resurface on the skin, or the mites can jump onto the dog from some other infected animal. Dipping in anti-bacterial or anti-itch shampoos may precede the use of an anti-mite dip or injections of other medicines prescribed by the vet to kill the mites. The purpose of treatment is to kill the mites so the skin can heal. Our remedy kills the mites that cause mange (kills fleas too).

Canine skin damaged by sarcoptic mange and secondary skin infections can take weeks or months to recover, depending on the scope of the problems. Frequent medicated baths or other skin soothing treatments may be necessary to reduce skin irritation and lessen the animal’s stress.

Mange damage can mimic that caused by other skin conditions, including autoimmune diseases, liver or thyroid malfunction, flea bite allergies, bacterial infections secondary to flea bite allergies, food allergies, and contact dermatitis, making it impossible for the pet owner to correctly diagnose with any real success. If your dog suffers from irritated, itchy skin, make an appointment with the veterinarian. Skin scrapings are necessary to find the mites and view them under a microscope. Early diagnosis of these problems will give you a head start on healing. Your dog will be more comfortable and so will your wallet.

Some vets recommend treatment for mange first, to rule it out, before exploring other possible causes of the dog’s skin condition by using more extensive and expensive tests. You can treat for mange yourself, first, by using the MAUI WOWIE MANGE BUSTER® Remedy. Except for the existence of secondary skin infections, skin allergies or other immune disorders, mange caused by the Sarcoptes Scabiei mite usually heals easier and faster than that caused by the Demodex Canis mite.

It is essential to clean up the dog’s environment to help prevent recurrence of the mite infestation. Our Remedy includes suggestions for how to do this.