Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin. They feed using their mouths and front legs to burrow into the outer layer of skin, where they lay eggs.

  • Scabies like warm places, such as skin folds, between the fingers, under fingernails, or around the buttock or breast creases.
  • They can hide under watch straps, bracelets or rings.
  • They can't fly or jump.

Scabies mites can be passed on by:

  • holding hands with an infected person for a prolonged period of time
  • having sex with an infected person 
  • sharing clothing, towels and bedding with an infected person.


Symptoms include:

  • intense itching and a rash in areas of the body where the mites have burrowed.
  • a rash consisting of tiny red spots.
  • burrow marks anywhere on the body.
  • men usually have one or more very itchy, lumpy, 3 to 10mm spots on the skin of the genitals (on the penis and scrotum). 

Getting tested

Make an appointment at one of our clinics if you have scabies. Delaying treatment places other people at risk.

If you think you have genital scabies or your partner has been diagnosed with it, visit your nearest sexual health clinic, where you'll be examined and, if necessary, treated.

A clinician should be able to diagnose scabies from the appearance of your skin, and by looking for the burrow marks of the scabies.

How are scabies treated?

Lotions and creams are commonly used to treat scabies. A clinician will be able to advise you about which treatment to use.

Protecting yourself and others

Until you are clear of scabies avoid:

  • close bodily contact;
  • having sex; and
  • sharing clothes, towels and bedding.

To prevent reinfection, it's important that all members of your household are treated, as well as any sexual partners you've had over the last six weeks. If you've had genital scabies in the past, anyone you've had sex with in the previous 48 hours will need to be treated.

If you're embarrassed about contacting previous sexual partners, your local sexual health clinic can inform them that they've been exposed to scabies on your behalf without disclosing your identity.

Do you have symptoms or want to be tested?

If you have symptoms you should get yourself tested to avoid infection developing and from transferring it to someone else.

Call 0300 008 5522 to book an appointment at one of our clinics.

Find your nearest clinic

For more information on scabies visit ...

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