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Scabies Symptoms, Treatments & Advice

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  • What is Scabies?

    Scabies is an infestation of a human skin mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei. They are microscopic mites that can burrow into the top layer of skin. A normal scabies infestation only involves 10 – 15 mites. Scabies is found all around the world and can infect anyone.

  • How long will symptoms of Scabies take to show?

    In people who have never had scabies before, symptoms of an infestation can take up to 4 – 6 weeks to present. If you have had scabies before, symptoms may show after just 1 – 4 days. It is important to remember that during the incubation period, even though you do not have any symptoms, you are still infectious and can pass scabies on to others.

  • What causes the itching associated with Scabies?

    The itching associated with scabies is caused by the toxins released by the scabies mites, not the mites themselves. Therefore the itching can continue for over a week after the mites are dead.

  • I have applied Scabies treatment and I am still itchy, should I re-apply?

    Scabies treatment is normally one-off but it can take a number of weeks for the itching to subside. Even after the mites are dead, itching can persist for a number of weeks due to the leftover toxins in your skin. During this time you can use an anti-itching cream like Eurax to soothe the area. If the itching lasts for more than 2 – 4 weeks re-treatment may be necessary.

  • Do I need to treat my family as well?

    Whether you treat your family for scabies as well as yourself will depend on a number of factors, however in most cases it is wise to treat the whole household for scabies at the same time to prevent reinfection.

  • Can I catch Scabies from my pets?

    No, scabies mites solely infect humans. There is an animal equivalent known as ‘mange’. It is possible for a ‘mange’ mite to burrow into human skin on contact with an infected animal, however they cannot reproduce in humans and will die after a few days.

  • How can I remove any Scabies mites from my clothes?

    To remove scabies mites from clothes, bedding and towels they should be put in a hot wash. This will kill the scabies mites. Scabies mites naturally die after 2 – 3 days of not being on human skin.

  • How contagious is Scabies?

    Scabies can be caught from someone following prolonged physical contact. Simply shaking hands or brushing against someone presents a low risk of catching scabies. However, having sex with someone with scabies poses a high risk of transmission and it is likely that person will require treatment.

Authored By:

A photo of  Chris Newbury

Chris Newbury

BPharm IP

Published on: 29-05-2019

Last modified on: 29-05-2019

Chris is a vastly experienced clinical pharmacist and has been registered as an Independent Prescriber since 2014.

Reviewed By:

A photo of Dr Donald Grant

Dr Donald Grant

MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.med

Reviewed on: 29-05-2019

Next review date: 29-05-2021

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

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