We get asked about mange mites almost every day.

A lot of disinformation about this external parasite gets spread on social media. We thought we’d lay out the facts.

The mite Sarcoptes scabiei var suis causes almost all mange in swine. The mite is under 1/32 inch in length, gray to white. They are visible to the naked eye when on a black background.

The life cycle from egg to adult only occurs in the skin of a pig and takes about 10-l5 days.

Mites and ova survive off a pig for only short periods of time. They live longer when its cool and moist and shorter when it is warm and dry. At normal controlled temperatures survival away from the pig is less than 2 hours.

The take away here is that mites cannot survive in bedding. The shavings or straw you bought at the farm store isn’t where the mites came from.

Mite survival in the environment is only a practical concern in the winter in barns that aren’t heated.

Mites spread pig to pig and almost always first colonize the inside of the ear. Itching is the hallmark symptom. The lesions range from red raised pustules to dry scaly appearing lesions.

To make a sure diagnosis we encourage you to do a skin scraping from the inside of the ear and look for the mange mites. You can do that by looking at the sample under a microscope on low power. If you don’t have a microscope put the scraping on a black sheet of paper.  Gently blow away the dry skin and you’ll see the white or light gray mites on the paper.

We often see people post pictures of pigs with various skin conditions on social media. Without fail the Facebook “veterinarians” diagnose mange. They go on to tell the poster how they are certain the mange came from bedding purchased from a certain farm store. More often than not they are incorrect about the diagnosis. Now you know their story about the source of the problem is also hogwash.

Show pigs are susceptible to dermatitis. This is partially because we wash away the natural oils that protect the skin. Then if shampoo isn’t rinsed completely dermatitis is almost certain. Many of the lesions I see posted look more like garden variety dermatitis than mange. That is why a scraping is necessary to tell if it is in fact mange. We will write more about other skin issues in a furure blog.

If you confirm it is mange then of course you need to treat it. The key is to treat every pig on the premises at the same time. That will eliminate pig to pig spread. Dectomax or ivermectin are the treatments of choice. Administer two doses two weeks apart. You can also use prolate either in conjunction with the injectables or by itself. If you choose prolate we recommend spraying the pig completely every 3 days 6 times over 18 days. Use a sprayer with a wand. You can’t get adequate coverage of the underside without a wand.


·       The mange mite lifecycle is all in the skin of pigs.

·       Mites only survive off a pig for a short period of time.

Less than 2 hours at 70 degrees

·       Mites CANNOT survive in a bag of shavings or bale of straw.

·       Not every skin lesion is mange.

·       Confirm mite infestation with a skin scraping.

To Control Mange:

·       Injectable treatment with ivermectin or Dectomax. ·       Spray with Prolate every 3 days for 6 treatments.