Scabies is a very itchy skin infestation caused by a tiny mite. It is spread by close contact, such as living with someone or sharing a bed.

Even the name 'scabies' sounds really nasty: it comes from the name of the tiny mite (like a really tiny insect). It can burrow into your skin, often through your hands, and then spread around your body.

What does scabies feel like?

Scabies is really really itchy. People say it's the itchiest thing they've ever had. It can drive people to their wits' end, especially at night. Often people are itching so much that they can't sleep. The itching and the tiredness make people really desperate for a treatment and they often turn up to the doctor feeling quite tearful.

The tiny mite can crawl anywhere, but it usually gets into your hands first. Then it spreads from your hands to anywhere you tend to touch: your neck, your tummy (abdomen), your chest. It often focuses on your belly button or the tops of your legs (your groin).

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Dr Oliver Starr
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Hannah Gronow
Document ID:
4325 (v45)
Last Checked:
02 October 2017
Next Review:
01 October 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.