Self-Care: Getting Serious About Scabies

Scabies is a highly contagious skin infection, caused by an infestation of mites under the skin. Passed from person to person, primarily by skin contact, scabies can be given to anyone, regardless of how clean they are. It has two main symptoms: the onset of a rash, and strong skin itchiness.

The reason the scabies mites have infested is to lay eggs. The incubation period is around four to six weeks from the date of first infection, which is when the itching usually starts and the rash appears. So, it can be a whole month before symptoms are noticeable.

Despite how benign the symptoms may sound (it’s just a rash and an itch!), they tend to get worse over short periods of time, and there’s the chance of secondary infections.

What to do if you think you’re infected
See your pharmacist or doctor. If you think you’ve picked up a scabies infection, it’s important that you seek treatment from your doctor or pharmacist right away. In most cases, scabies can be treated with the use of a topical cream and oral antibiotics. The quicker you seek treatment, the less the likelihood you’ll pass it on to others, or develop a second infection.

Inform family and friends. Once diagnosed by your pharmacist or doctor, it’s important that you let your family and loved ones know, so they can take preventative measures, or seek treatment if symptoms appear.

Complete the treatment. It’s vital that you and anyone else in your household complete the full treatment.

Adopt preventative measures. Once you’re clear of the infection, follow the preventative measures covered in the links below to ensure no further break outs!

Some useful links:

Looking after your child’s skin and treating skin infections
DermNet NZ
Ministry of Health – Scabies information and some useful resources for download
Healthline – check your symptoms and seek advice


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