Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin.

The main symptom of scabies is intense itching that's worse at night. It also causes askin rash on areas where the mites have burrowed.

They feed using their mouths and front legs to burrow into the outer layer of skin (epidermis), where they lay eggs.

After three to four days, the baby mites (larvae) hatch and move to the surface of the skin, where they mature into adults.

Scabies like warm places, such as skin folds, between the fingers, under fingernails, or around the buttock or breast creases. They can also hide under watch straps, bracelets or rings.

It's also possible but rare for scabies to be passed on by sharing clothing, towels and bedding with someone who's infected.

It can take up to eight weeks for the symptoms of scabies to appear after the initial infection. This is known as the incubation period.

This may be because people tend to spend more time indoors and closer to each other at this time of year.

It's difficult to know exactly how many cases of scabies there are in the UK. This is because many people don't visit their GP and treat the condition with non-prescription medicines.

Treating scabies

Visityour GP if you thinkyou have scabies.It's not usually a serious condition, but it does need to be treated.

The two most widely used treatments for scabies are permethrin cream andmalathion lotion (brand name Derbac M).Both medications contain insecticides that kill the scabies mite.

Permethrin 5% cream is usually recommended as the first treatment. Malathion 0.5% lotion is used if permethrinis ineffective.

If your partnerhas been diagnosed with genital scabies, to avoid reinfection you should visit your nearest sexual health clinic so you can be checkedand, if necessary, treated.

Avoid having sex and other forms of close bodilycontact until both you and your partner have completed the full course of treatment.

This can develop inolder people and those with a lowered immunity.


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 20 Jun 2016