Health A to Z
Scabies is very common and anyone can get it. It should be treated quickly to stop it spreading.
One of the first symptoms is intense itching, especially at night.
Tiny mites lay eggs in the skin, leaving silvery lines with a dot at one end.
The rash can appear anywhere, but it often starts between the fingers. The rash spreads and turns into tiny red spots.
The scabies rash usually spreads across the whole body – apart from the head.
Elderly people, young children and those with a weakened immune system may also develop a rash on their head and neck.
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.
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 the household needs to be treated at the same time – even if they don't have symptoms.
Anyone you’ve had sexual contact with in the past 8 weeks should also be treated.
Anyone can get scabies – it has got nothing to do with poor hygiene.
You or your child can go back to work or school 24 hours after the first treatment.
Although the treatment kills the scabies mites quickly the itching can carry on for a few weeks.
See a GP if your skin is still itching 4 weeks after treatment has finished.
Scabies are passed from person to person by skin-to-skin contact. You can't get scabies from pets.
People who live or work closely together in nurseries, university halls of residence, or nursing homes are more at risk.
Scratching the rash can cause skin infections like impetigo.