WHAT ARE THEY?
Scabies are parasitic mites that burrow below the surface of the skin. The mites lay eggs under the skin, which then hatch into larvae that move to new areas and spread infection. Mites prefer warm zones (folds of skin on elbows, wrists, buttocks, knees, armpits, shoulder blades, waist, breasts, penis, between the fingers, and under the nails).
HOW WOULD I GET THEM?
Scabies are typically passed through intimate sexual contact as well as non-sexual contact. Scabies can live for three days on clothing, towels, and bedding, so these items may be a source of transmission.
HOW WOULD I KNOW I HAD THEM?
The most common symptom of a scabies infection is severe itching, especially at nighttime. An individual who is infected may also develop a reddish rash on fingers, wrists, armpits, waist, nipples, and penis. These symptoms typically develop within 3 to 4 weeks of becoming infected. With recurrences, the same symptoms occur, but more rapidly, usually within hours of infestation.
A doctor can usually diagnose scabies from a visual inspection. They may also send a skin sample to the lab for confirmation of infection.
CAN THEY BE TREATED AND CURED?
Yes. Scabies are treated through special creams or lotions. It is also very important that a person infected with scabies cleans anything that might have mites on it, such as clothes, bedding, and towels. These items need to be washed in very hot water or tied up in a plastic bag for two weeks to prevent the scabies from spreading. If there are any items that cannot be washed or bagged, they should be vacuumed.
All sexual partners who have had contact with the infected person in the month before the diagnosis should be treated to help prevent the infection from spreading.All household members should also be assessed by their family doctor.
IF THEY AREN’T TREATED, CAN THEY LEAD TO MORE SERIOUS PROBLEMS?
Persistent scratching of irritated skin can cause a secondary bacterial infection.
Severe infections are commonly seen in people with compromised immune systems: the skin can become scaly or crusty, requiring more complex and aggressive treatment.
Condoms do not protect against scabies, because they are spread simply by close contact. Your best protection is to get regular STI tests.
HOW TO BOOK AND PREPARE YOURSELF FOR AN APPOINTMENT?
Booking an appointment with us is easy! Give us a call at 902.455.9656 ext. 0. You will be speaking with either a volunteer or a medical administrator. We cannot book appointments over email or Facebook. You cannot book an appointment for someone else, even if they are your partner or child. We will need to speak with them directly. To book, we will need your full name, birth date, phone number, and a very brief reason for your visit. That’s it! The person on the phone will outline anything you need to know to prepare for your appointment. Our average wait time for an appointment is 4-6 weeks from the day you call.
Make sure you bring your valid provincial health card with you to your appointment. Clients without health cards are subject to doctors and lab fees.
Are you a youth? You do not need parental consent for any of our appointments.
Don’t have access to or lost your health card? You are entitled to your health card information! Call MSI toll-free at 1-800-563-8880 (in Nova Scotia) or at 902-496-7008 from Monday-Friday 8am-5pm. We require the number and the expiry date. Another tip: take a picture of your card! You will never lose it again!
Oral, vaginal, and anal STI tests have no preparation.