NHS Lothian outbreak: What is Scabies and how is it treated?

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Scabies is not an infection, but an infestation.

Tiny mites called Sarcoptes scabiei set up shop in the outer layers of human skin. As the mites burrow and lay eggs inside the skin, the infestation leads to itching and an angry rash.

Photo by Shutterstock. A micrograph of a Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis, an ectoparasite acarus responsible for scabies, which burrows under the sensitive sections of skin, causing severe irritation.'Scabies

Photo by Shutterstock. A micrograph of a Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis, an ectoparasite acarus responsible for scabies, which burrows under the sensitive sections of skin, causing severe irritation.'Scabies

READ MORE: Five NHS Lothian sites hit by major scabies infestation

Scabies are passed from person to person by skin-to-skin contact. You can’t get scabies from pets. People who live or work closely together in nurseries, university halls of residence, or nursing homes are more at risk.

Scabies is not usually a serious condition, but it does need to be treated. A pharmacist will recommend a cream or lotion that you apply over your whole body.

Scabies is infectious but it can take up to 8 weeks for the rash to appear.

The infestation can sometimes also can be spread by contact with items such as clothing, bedding, or towels that have been used by a person with scabies