How do you catch Scabies?

Published January 6 2024 inSexual Health
stopwatch2 minutes read

Scabies is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause severe irritation and discomfort. Scabies is unusual, though. It’s not your average STI that infects the genitals.

In this blog, we’ll discuss what an STI is, why Scabies is considered an STI, the effects of the infection if left untreated, and what you can do if you suspect you may have Scabies.

What are STIs?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are contagious infections that can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. They can also be passed on through other non-sexual acts, like skin-to-skin contact or by sharing needles for intravenous drug use.

Common STIs in Australia include:

What is Scabies?

Scabies is a parasitic infestation where tiny mites burrow under the skin and lay eggs, causing rashes and extreme irritation. During a Scabies infestation, the rash (usually red, often with raised spots) spreads across the whole body, including between the fingers, around the wrists, under the arms, and around the waist and groin.

People with weakened immune systems can sometimes get a rare and very contagious form of Scabies called Crusted Scabies. The main symptoms of a Crusted Scabies infection are a crusted, flaky rash that affects the elbows, knees, or feet.

It’s important to note that anyone can get Scabies and it has nothing to do with poor hygiene.

Is Scabies considered an STI?

Unlike the viral and bacterial infections that we normally associate with STIs, Scabies is a parasitic infestation and is primarily transmitted through prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. The infection is often passed on during sexual contact. Because of this, Scabies is considered an STI. However, Scabies can also be passed on through other forms of prolonged contact like holding hands, hugging, or spooning.

While uncommon, Scabies can also be passed on through sharing things like clothing and bedding. This type of infection is more likely to be transmitted when the infected person has Crusted Scabies.

What are the effects of untreated Scabies?

If left untreated, Scabies can lead to serious complications like impetigo and severe skin infections and can exacerbate existing conditions like psoriasis and eczema.

How is Scabies tested and treated?

If you think you may have Scabies, it’s important to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

A Scabies test involves scraping the skin off an affected area to get a sample. A medical professional will then analyse this sample and search for the presence of mites.

Scabies can be treated with prescription creams and lotions that kill the mites and relieve symptoms.

Final thoughts

Scabies is easily passed from person to person through sexual contact and skin-to-skin contact. It can lead to severe discomfort and cause serious damage to your health if left untreated.

If you suspect you may have Scabies, seeing a healthcare professional and getting tested and treated right away is important. Remember, early detection and treatment are key to preventing complications and reducing the spread of the infection.

Book a Scabies test with Better2Know today if you think you might be infected. You can also call the number at the top of this page to speak with one of our knowledgeable Sexual Health Advisors.


Mike has been delivering world class Sexually Transmitted Infections testing services to Better2Know patients around the world for over ten years. He has written extensively on the subject, including numerous blogs for Better2Know which are designed to demystify the complex intricacies of sexual health testing. Mike wants to help his readers understand the risks they take in their daily sexual lives and provide the information they need when choosing an STI or STD test in a clear, concise and understandable way. Mike is particularly interested in writing about viral STIs like HIV and Hepatitis, as these infections can have a devastating impact on people’s lives if they are not diagnosed quickly. Only through being well informed can you best care for your health, and Mike is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience to help you and all his readers lead a happier, healthier life.