Scabies, which is a contagious skin condition, is caused by tiny mites. The mites burrow into your skin, causing severe itching as the main symptom, with this itching worsening at night.

Scabies also causes a skin rash in the areas where the mites have burrowed.


Your IPSA clinic consultation

If you do think that you have scabies, then book a same-day scabies appointment for a full scabies consultation at your IPSA clinic. Your IPSA practitioner, who is skilled at treating and diagnosing skin conditions, will carry out your scabies consultation immediately in IPSA’s calm and totally confidential clinic setting. At IPSA, your physician will always take your symptoms seriously, and she or he will operate with IPSA’s person-centred and holistic approach to best assess your condition/treatment options. Scabies is not usually serious, but it is important to get it treated as soon as possible.



The Latin name for the scabies mite is Sarcoptes scabiei. These mites feed by using their mouths and their front legs to burrow into the epidermis (the outer layer of your skin), where they lay their eggs.

It takes three or four days for the baby mites (larvae) to hatch and move out to the surface of your skin, which is where they mature into their adult form.

Scabies prefer to live in warm places, such as in your skin folds, between your fingers, under your fingernails, or around the buttock/breast creases. They can also hide under rings, watchstraps and bracelets.


How does scabies spread?

Scabies usually spreads through extended periods of skin-to-skin contact with a person who is infected, or via sexual contact.

It is rare but possible for scabies to be passed on through sharing towels, clothing and bedding with someone who is infected.

Following the initial infection, it can sometimes take eight weeks for the scabies symptoms to appear. This “waiting” period is called the incubation period.


Scabies outbreaks

Scabies is widespread in areas that are densely populated and that usually have limited access to good medical care. Scabies is most common in the following tropical/subtropical areas:

  • Africa
  • India
  • Central/South America
  • The Caribbean Islands
  • Northern/Central Australia
  • Southeast Asia

In more developed countries, such as the UK, scabies outbreaks can occur in places where there are many people, such as nurseries, schools and care homes.

In the UK, scabies outbreaks mostly occur in the winter months, perhaps because people often spend more of their time indoors and are closer to each other during these colder months.

It is hard to estimate the number of scabies cases in the UK because many people will not visit their doctor and tend to treat the condition using non-prescription medicines.


IPSA treatments

Permethrin cream and malathion lotion (Derbac M) are the two main treatments for scabies and both of these medications contain insecticides to kill the scabies mite.

Your IPSA specialist will often recommend 5% permethrin cream as your first treatment, but if this is not effective, then 0.5% malathion lotion is used.

If you or your partner are diagnosed by your IPSA practitioner as having genital scabies, then in order to avoid reinfection, if necessary, your IPSA doctor will recommend treatment. Only after having taken the complete course of the genital scabies treatment should you engage in any sex or other types of close bodily contact.


Complications of scabies

Sometimes a secondary skin infection can develop from scabies due to irritation and inflammation caused by excessive itching.

If you are older or have reduced immunity, then a rare and more severe form of “crusted scabies” can develop. This is when excessive numbers of mites are in your skin.

If you suspect you have scabies, then book your immediate IPSA scabies consultation today (by phoning IPSA or visiting our online booking service).



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