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Scabies in women

What is scabies?

  • It is a skin infestation caused by a tiny mite called Sarcopetes scabiei.
  • Mites burrow into the skin where they live and lay eggs – the offspring crawl out onto the skin and make new burrows and perpetuate the cycle.
  • Scabies leads to intense itching particularly at night.
  • Scabies is spread by direct skin contact.
  • Any part of the body can be affected.
  • Scabies can be treated with creams or lotions.
  • If you have scabies we recommend an STI screen and HIV test as there is evidence that you are more likely to have an STI.

How common is scabies?

  • Scabies is common – it is found world wide and affects people of all age, race and social class.
  • Scabies can spread more rapidly in crowded conditions or institutions where close body and skin contact is more frequent.

How do you catch scabies?

  • By direct skin-to-skin contact with someone that has scabies.
  • Intimate or sexual contact is a common way of catching scabies.
  • Mites may survive up to 72 hours off the human body (e.g. on clothing). 

What would I notice if I had scabies?

  • If someone has never had scabies before symptoms usually take 4 to 6 weeks to develop.
  • But someone can still pass on scabies during this time.
  • Common things you may notice:
    • intense generalised itching particularly at night
    • a pimple like itchy rash commonly affecting the genital area (where the pimples are often nodule like), between the fingers, wrists, elbow creases and around the breast nipples 
    • tiny burrows in the skin –silvery lines particularly between the fingers 

How do I get tested for scabies?

  • An experienced doctor can make a diagnosis on clinical examination – we can do this at the Wolverton.
  • It can sometimes be confirmed by taking a skin scraping and examining under a microscope for a mite.

How is scabies treated?

  • With either:



MALATHION 0.5% aqueous lotion

  • These should be applied to the whole body from neck downwards and left on for at least 12 hours (usually overnight) before washing off.
  • Clothing or bedding that may be contaminated should be washed at high temperature (>50¢ªC).
  • Permethrin is safe during pregnancy and breast feeding.
  • Itching may continue for 2-4 weeks after treatment – if bad your doctor can prescribe something to help relieve the itch.
  • All treatments from the Wolverton are free and supplied directly to you in the clinic.

What about my partner?

  • All current sexual partners and household contacts should be examined and treated at the same time.
  • Previous partners in the last 2 months will also need to be treated.

What problems can untreated scabies lead to?

  • Itching will persist and the skin is likely to become secondarily infected from constant scratching.
  • Large itchy nodules may appear particularly in the genital area.

Will scabies come back again after treatment?

  • Sometimes the treatment fails because:
    • either the skin was not totally covered with the cream /lotion
    • the lotion was not applied for long enough
    • partners / contacts were not treated at the same time
    • the person was re-infected
    • A severe form of scabies called Norwegian scabies exists which is very infectious and can be difficult to treat.
    • Norwegian scabies usually affects the elderly or people who are very immunosuppressed (e.g. HIV).
    • Your doctor would recognise this form of infection.
    • It is treated with tablets called Ivermectin.

More information

Click here for further information on scabies