Scabies

Scabies is caused by the scabies mite. It lives under the skin and causes itching. Scabies is not serious. You get it mainly through close bodily contact.

What is it?

The scabies mite is a tiny creature that you cannot see with the naked eye. It digs little burrows in the skin where the females lay their eggs which hatch after three to four days. This causes itching. Scabies is not serious. You get scabies through close bodily contact like sex, or through shared use of infected clothing or bed linen for example.

Scabies mite

Symptoms

  • Itching, sometime over the whole body. At night and in a warm environment, the itching is worse
  • Visible tracks on the wrists, between the fingers, on the back of the knees and under the breasts
  • Red-purple lumps on and around the penis and vagina
  • Irritable red skin from scratching
  • Itching for a few weeks even after treatment

About three weeks after infection, you get itching over the whole body. Scratching does not help. You can see the scabies mite’s ‘burrow tracks’ in some places on your body. The doctor diagnoses whether you have scabies by looking for the scabies mite.

How do I get rid of it?

Go to the doctor. He or she will diagnose whether you have scabies by looking for the scabies mite. It is often difficult to find. If it is the scabies mite, you will get pills or a cream. Use the cream after showering, but on dry skin over the whole body. Include the back but not the head. Allow the cream to work for eight to twelve hours (one night). Wash all your clothes and bed linen at 60° C at least. Air mattresses and pillows for 72 hours. Store non-washable items in tightly sealed (air-tight) garbage bags. It is important that partners who have shared your bed or clothing are also treated.

Advice

  • Go to your doctor for diagnosis
  • Carefully follow the instructions that come with the pills or cream
  • Clean clothes and bed linen
  • Sexual partners or people you have shared clothing with should get treated in the same way
  • If you have contracted scabies through sexual contact have an STI test
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