What is Scabies?

Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by tiny insects called mites. The mite is so small, it can only be seen with a magnifying glass.


What are the symptoms of Scabies?

The mites burrow into the skin and cause a very itchy rash. The rash looks like curvy, white threads, tiny red bumps, or scratches and it can appear anywhere on the body. It usually appears between fingers or around wrists or elbows. On an infant, it can appear on the head, face, neck and body. It may take 2-6 weeks after being infected for the itching to occur. The only sure way to find out if you have scabies is to see your doctor.


How does Scabies spread?

Scabies spreads from person to person by direct contact with infested skin or by contact with clothing/bedding or other personal items of someone else who had it.  The mite does not jump. Mites do not survive for more than 3-4 days without skin contact.


What should I do if I have Scabies?

  • Contact your doctor if you think you have scabies.
  • All household, close personal and sexual contacts should be treated with medication at the same time.  Be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle.  Itching may continue for weeks after successful treatment.
  • Children under 2 years of age, pregnant and lactating women and persons with extensive dermatitis must seek their doctor’s advice before treatment.
  • All bed linen, towels and clothing worn next to the skin should be laundered in hot water and dried in a dryer at the hottest setting.  This will kill the mites.
  • Store items that can’t be washed in an airtight bag for 1 week.  The mite cannot survive beyond 4 days without human contact.
  • Fumigation of living areas is not necessary.
  • Exclude from school/day care/work for 24 hours after treatment.


This page provides basic information only. It must not take the place of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to a health care professional about any health concerns.


For Further Information

Call the Infectious Disease Program: (807) 625-5900

or toll-free 1-888-294-6630

Health Topic
Diseases & Infections