Scabies is one of the more common sexually transmitted infections because it is easily passed on through skin contact.
Scabies is an infection of the skin caused by tiny parasitic mites. They burrow under the skin, causing itching.
The mites can’t be seen and some people only get very mild itching which they don’t realise is due to scabies. For some people the itching can be intense, usually starting two to six weeks after infection.
The mites burrowing under the skin can leave red lines, especially between your fingers and around the wrists. The mites can also be found on your feet, buttocks, stomach, anus, penis, vagina, and testicles.
Scabies is easily passed on through body contact during sex. It can also be passed on through sharing clothes, towels and bedding, but this is unlikely.
If you think you may have scabies you can go to your nearest GUM Clinic. You can also see your local GP.
By law, sexual health clinics cannot tell anyone about your visit to the GUM; these rules do not apply to your GP who can tell other people about your appointment.
Treating scabies can be done at home using a lotion. You can get these cheaply from a chemist without a prescription or free from your GUM clinic. You spread the lotion over your whole body, including the palms of your hands, soles of your feet and between your fingers and toes (but not your face and head), and leave it on for the stated amount of time. A second treatment may be needed a week later.
Even when treatment works you may itch for several weeks. But if you still itch after two weeks, a GUM clinic will advise you what to do.
Whatever happens, only repeat a treatment if a doctor tells you to, as too much lotion can irritate your skin.
No-one is immune to scabies, if you’ve had it before you can get it again.
There is no way to prevent yourself from getting scabies; however you can prevent it from spreading by:
Using a condom can help protect against getting and passing on other sexually transmitted infections. Dental dams can also be used during oral sex and rimming for safer sex. You can order free safer sex packs from Trade here.