Scabies: Symptoms, Treatment and Causes

What Is Scabies?

Scabies is a common contagious skin disease and anyone can get it. It should be treated quickly to stop it spreading.

Scabies symptoms

The symptoms of scabies are:

·      Intense itching, especially at night

·      A raised rash or spots

The spots may look red. They are more difficult to see on dark skin, but you should be able to feel them.

How do you get scabies?

Tiny mites lay eggs in the skin, leaving lines with a dot at one end.

The rash can appear anywhere, but it often starts between the fingers.

The rash may then spread and turn into tiny spots. This may look red on lighter skin.

The rash may leave dark spots on the skin. This may look brown or black on darker skin.

The scabies rash usually spreads across the whole body, apart from the head.

However, older people, young children and those with a weakened immune system may develop a rash on their head and neck.

Scabies treatment

A pharmacist can help with scabies

Scabies is not usually a serious condition, but it does need to be treated.

A pharmacist will recommend a cream or lotion that you apply over your whole body. It’s important to read the instructions carefully.

Let the pharmacist know if you are breastfeeding or pregnant.

You’ll need to repeat the treatment 1 week later.

Scabies is very infectious, but it can take up to 8 weeks for the rash to appear.

Everyone in your home needs to be treated at the same time, even if they do not have symptoms.

Anyone you have had sexual contact with in the past 8 weeks should also be treated.

Things you can do during treatment to stop scabies spreading


·      Wash all bedding and clothing in the house at 50C or higher on the first day of treatment

·      Put clothing that cannot be washed in a sealed bag for 3 days until the mites die

·      Stop babies and children sucking treatment from their hands by putting socks or mittens on them


·      Do not have sex or close physical contact until you have completed the full course of treatment

·      Do not share bedding, clothing or towels with someone with scabies