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What is it?

Scabies are tiny insects that burrow under the skin

Scabies can live on any part of our body but tend to prefer:

  • The genital area and buttocks
  • Between the fingers and toes
  • Wrists
  • Inside of elbow and knee joints
  • Underarms

How is it passed on?

Scabies is passed on by close skin contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Scabies can sometimes be spread by sharing clothing, bedding and towels. They can survive off of the body for up to 72 hours.

What are the symptoms?

It can take several weeks after coming into contact with scabies before signs and symptoms appear.

You might notice:

  • Intense itching in the affected areas, often at night or after a hot bath or shower
  • An itchy red rash or tiny spots. This can look similar to other skin conditions such as eczema

Sore or broken skin which is usually caused by scratching

How do you test for it?

There is no routine test available. Scabies is diagnosed in clinic by the doctor or nurse looking at your skin.

What is the treatment?

Scabies is treated by using a special cream, lotion or shampoo over the whole body.

You will need to wash your clothing, bedding and towels in a washing machine on a very hot cycle (50°C or higher) to kill the bugs and avoid re-infection.

The itching may continue for a few days following treatment.

Make sure your sexual partners and close contacts in your household are treated at the same time. This should be done even if they don’t have any signs or symptoms.

Find out how to avoid STIs.