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Scabies are a tiny mite creature (bug) that burrows under the skin causing intense itching and sometimes a rash. The rash is due to an allergic reaction to the mite.

Scabies is highly contagious and is passed from person to person through close skin contact. Infestation may also occur by sharing clothing, towels, and bedding. Anyone can get scabies regardless of age, gender or standards of personal hygiene.

The tiny scabies mite prefers to burrow and lay its eggs in skin that is soft and protected. Areas such as wrists, between the fingers, folds of the armpit and elbow, the groin and the creases of the bottom are common areas.

Scabies are easily treated with gentle scrubbing of the skin followed by drying and applying permethrin cream or lotion that you can buy from pharmacies. It’s important to follow the directions on the bottle carefully.

Speak to your pharmacist to make sure you buy the correct lotion.

Should I keep my child home from school?

Here’s a list of common childhood illnesses, including scabies, and their recommended exclusion periods.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your scabies, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2017

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