Scabies is caused by the itch mite. The females burrow into the skin, where they lay eggs. You can't see the mites themselves, but you can see the tunnels.

What is scabies?

Scabies is very contagious. You can get it by having sex, but also by sleeping in a bed belonging to someone who has scabies or by wearing his or her clothes. Scabies causes annoying itching, but it’s not serious.

Scabies needs to be treated by a doctor as it won’t go away by itself.


About 2 to 6 weeks after you’re infected, you’ll feel itching all over your body. If you’ve had scabies before, this may start after just a few days. It will be especially bad at night, because of the warmth in your bed. Tunnels are mainly noticeable on wrists, between fingers, in knee cavities and under the breasts. Small red-purple bumps may develop on the genitals. Scratching does not help, and may even damage the skin. 


Scabies can be treated with a cream or pills. Get this from your doctor. Always read the instructions before use and make sure you follow them. It’s important that your partner(s) and anyone else you share a bed or clothes with are treated too. Even if they have no symptoms, they may have been infected. 


To prevent scabies from returning, wash your clothing and bedding at a minimum of 60°C. Put anything you can't wash in a sealed plastic bag for at least 3 days (72 hours). Air mattresses and pillows. Also wash your partner’s bedding, towels and clothes.