Scabies are mites that infest the skin; they are invisible to the naked eye. Female scabies will lay eggs under the surface of the skin. Symptoms may appear two to six weeks after infestation.

  • Severe itching, especially at night
  • Skin irritation, redness and inflammation that usually appear between fingers and toes, wrist, underarm and the genital area

Infestations are diagnosed by a doctor or nurse practitioner after examining the skin and hearing about the symptoms you are experiencing.

  • You can treat pubic lice and scabies at home with medicated lotions, creams or shampoos that are available at the drug store without a prescription.
  • Seek medical attention if symptoms persist after two treatments.
  • All sexual partners, family and other people who have come into close body contact with you will need to be examined and treated.
  • Any clothes, bed linen or towels used in the two to three weeks prior to having symptoms must be dry-cleaned or washed in hot soapy water. If dry cleaning is not possible, place them in a closed plastic bag and store them away for two weeks.
  • Carpets, mattresses and furniture should be vacuumed thoroughly.

Scabies can be transmitted during sexual activity or other skin-to-skin contact. It may also spread by sharing clothing, towels or bedding with someone who is infested. Condoms do not prevent the spread.

Sexual activity can be resumed when there are no sign or symptoms and sexual partners have been treated.

For more information:

Sexual Health Centre

179 Clarence Street

Ottawa K1N 5P7

613-234-4641 TTY: 613-580-9656

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