Skin scraping

The use of a dull blade to scrape the superficial layer of the skin in order to diagnose the presence of skin mites. There are 2 common types of skin mites which can cause dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) and may be referred to as “mange”. Sarcoptic mange (scabies) mites live on the surface of the skin, but may be very difficult to find on a skin scrape because it only takes a few mites to cause severe disease. Sarcoptic mange is easily spread between animals but can also be spread to people and causes intense irritation and itching. The other type of “mange” is caused by Demodex mites, which are actually normal inhabitant of the skin of dogs and cats but cause hairloss in pets whose immune system is compromised and in young dogs. The Demodex mites live in the hair follicle and cause clogging of the pores and loss of hair when they overgrow. Although this does cause mild inflammation to the hair follicle, the infection does not cause symptoms such as itching unless there is also a secondary skin infection. In the past, “mange” was treated by a series of medicated baths or “dips”, however, there were many side effects associated with this treatment and today oral or topical medications are more commonly used.