Scabies is an infection caused by a parasite that is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. You can get it from having sex with a person who is already infected. Scabies is mainly found in warm, moist areas of the body. It is caused by mites (microscopic parasites) that crawl under the skin to lay eggs. These mites are not visible to the naked eye and they can survive up to three days on surfaces.
Scabies is spread through direct contact (skin-to-skin) or indirect contact (for example sharing towels, sheets, or personal hygiene items) with an infected person.
You can get scabies more than once in your lifetime.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, a person with scabies may experience the following symptoms:
- Itching in the body’s hairy areas (especially at night)
- Skin redness
- A rash around the genitals, between the fingers, on the wrists, abdomen, ankles, or inside of the elbows.
When in doubt, you can contact Info-Santé (811) or get tested.
Testing and treatment 🔍
Testing is done by medical examination. Scabies is treated with specialized lotions sold over the counter in drugstores. You can ask the pharmacist for advice on which product you should take.
It is also important to wash all clothing and linen that has been in direct contact with the infected person in very hot water. Sexual partners and anyone living with the infected person should also receive treatment at the same time.
Infected individuals should avoid physical contact during treatment to prevent the spread of scabies to others. It is therefore preferable to avoid sexual relations (even if you’re using protection) during this time. Infected individuals should also avoid sharing clothing, towels, or personal hygiene items.