What is scabies?
Scabies is a skin condition characterized by the extreme itching on the surface of your skin. This condition occurs when Sarcoptes scabies, a tiny parasite, lays eggs and infects the top layer of your skin. Scabies can also cause rashes and irritation. Because the scabies mites are very small, you will not likely see them.
How do you get scabies?
You may get scabies through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. This usually happens during sex when you are close to that person for a long period of time. Although most people get scabies from sex, there are many other ways of transmission. Scabies can spread from a person to those who live in the same house. It’s also commonly found in crowded facilities with extensive close skin contact (nursing homes, prisons, and child care places). You may get scabies if you use clothes, towels, or bedding of an infected person. Quick and casual touching, such as handshakes or hugs, will not give you scabies. Chances of infection from a public toilet seat are low, too. In most cases, you need to be really close and personal with an infected person to get scabies.
What are the symptoms?
You may have scabies if you experience:
- Intense itching that is worse at night or after a hot bath
- Silvery lines under your skin
- Small, red, raised lumps on the skin surface
- Rashes on genitals or bottom, knees, waistline, hands, wrists, and between your fingers.
How to treat scabies?
Treatment for scabies involve the use of scabicide – prescription medication specifically formulated to kill scabies mites. It’s a topical treatment you use to rub on your whole body, then wash off after a few hours. Oral medication may be prescribed in some cases.
Besides medication, it’s important to wash or dry clean all of your bedding, towels, and clothing on the hottest setting. If there’s something that cannot be washed, you may put it in a sealed bag for at least three days for the mites and eggs to die. You don’t need to call an exterminator but don’t forget to vacuum carpets and furniture, then throw away the vacuum bag.
If you have scabies, anyone that has close skin contact with you should be treated at the same time so you don’t re-infect each other. Avoid sexual acts or close contact until you all have finished your course of treatment. You may still feel the itch up to 3 weeks after your treatment. But if the itching persists or get worse, or if you see new rashes or burrow lines, visit your doctor to get treated again.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 25, 2017 | Last Modified: December 9, 2019
Scabies (sexually transmitted infection). http://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/S_T/Scabies-sexually-transmitted-infection. Accessed May 19, 2017.
Scabies. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/scabies. Accessed May 19, 2017.