Be Safe.



Also Known as:




Scabies is a skin infection that is mainly passed by close person-to-person contact, including sexual contact. It can also be spread through clothing, bedding, furniture or hard surfaces. People of all ages, including children, can get scabies. Scabies is not always a sexually transmitted infection, but it is spread by close contact and can be easily passed between sex partners.

How do I get it?

Scabies is caused by a tiny mite (Sarcoptes scabiei) that gets under the skin and lays eggs.


How do I know if I have it?

The most common symptoms include:

  • Itching and irritation on hands, armpits, wrists, nipples, waist, abdomen, genitals and thighs
  • Itching often increases at night and after a warm shower

Scabies has two main symptoms:

  • Severe itching that is usually worse at night — small children and older adults tend to have the worst itching.
  • A rash with tiny blisters or sores.

Children tend to have worse skin reactions than adults. Symptoms are more likely to occur between the fingers and on the palm side of the wrists, on the outside surfaces of the elbows and in the armpits, around the waistline and navel, on the butt, around the nipples, bra line, the sides of the breasts (in women), and on the genitals.


  • Persistent scratching of irritated skin can cause a secondary bacterial infection.
  • Severe infections are commonly seen in people with compromised immune systems: the skin can become scaly or crusty, requiring more complex and aggressive treatment.



Scabies doesn’t go away without treatment. They’re the worst. Follow these steps and do all steps on the same day.

  1. Treat scabies with a special cream or lotion, which kills mites. You can buy it at a drugstore without a prescription. Follow the package directions. Put the lotion on the whole body from the neck down. Put clean clothes on after treatment. Talk to your pharmacist, doctor, or nurse if you have questions or if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or treating a child under 2.
  2. You must treat all clothes, towels, and bedding used during treatment and any unwashed items used 2 to 3 days before treatment. To do this, wash all items in hot water (50 °C) and put them in a dryer for at least 20 minutes on the hottest setting. If any items can’t be washed, have them dry cleaned or loosely pack them in a sealed plastic bag. Put the bag in the freezer for 2 to 7 days.
  3. Vacuum mattresses, pillows, rugs, beds, and furniture.

Once your treatment is done, you can’t spread scabies. The itching and rash might not go away for days or weeks. If the itching doesn’t get better or it gets worse at least 2 weeks after treatment, talk to your nurse or doctor. You may need to repeat the treatment.

When someone has scabies, anyone living with that person should also receive treatment.

Tests and Diagnosis

  • Taking a skin scraping of the burrow to remove the mite
  • The Burrow Ink Test (BIT) as scabies burrows under the skin retain pen ink

What happens if I go untreated?

You’ll stay itchy and uncomfortable.

When can I have sex again?

Once treatment is complete.

Other resources

What to expect when
getting tested

Get comfortable with the process.

  • What to bring
    to your
  • What will
    you be
  • What the

What to bring
to your

Your name and contact details and questions about your sexual history.

  • A form of ID (driver's license, passport)
  • Your health care card

What will
you be

Questions about your recent sexual history.

When you last had sex, whether it was unprotected, what kind of symptoms you have...

What the

A few different potential tests involve procedures that aren’t a huge deal.

Pelvic exams, swab tests, blood tests and or urine tests

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