Scabies is caused by a tiny parasitic mite; they burrow under your skin and lay eggs.

How do you catch them?

Scabies is easily passed on from one person to another through close bodily contact or sexual contact. The mites which cause scabies can be found in the genital area, on the hands, between the fingers, on the wrists and elbows, underneath the arms, on the abdomen, on the breast, around the nipple in women, on the feet and ankles and round the buttocks.

The mites can live for up to 72 hours off the body, so occasionally it is possible for them to be spread by clothing, bedding and towels.

What are the signs and symptoms?

It may take up to 6 weeks before any signs or symptoms appear. You may notice:

  • intense itching in the affected area (may only be at night or become worse at night)
  • an itchy rash or tiny spots
  • inflammation or raw broken skin in the affected area, usually caused by scratching

How will you know if you have Scabies?

You will be aware of the intense itching and inflammation.

How do you get tested?

You can get checked out by your GP or at your local sexual health clinic. A doctor or nurse can often tell if you have scabies just by looking at the affected area. They may gently take a skin flake from one of the spots and look at it under a microscope.

What is the treatment?

Treatment for Scabies is simple and involves using special cream or lotion,  this has to be used on 2 separate occasions 7 days apart. Clothing, bedding and towels should also be washed on a very hot cycle (above 50 degrees C) to avoid re-infection.

Is there anything I can do myself?

Reducing the number of partners you have sex with reduces the risk of being infected.