Is Scabies an STD?

If you are concerned about your sexual health, you might ask: is scabies an STD? Strictly speaking, scabies is not technically an STD. Rather, scabies is a contagious skin condition typically transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. However, the condition can be regarded as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) if it is contracted because of sexual contact.

What Is Scabies?

Scabies is an extremely contagious common skin condition with approximately 200 million people being affected worldwide. This unpleasant infection is not age-specific, but the most afflicted groups are children and sexually active individuals.

  • Even if you are symptom-free, you can still spread scabies to others. 

What Causes Scabies?

Scabies is caused by scabies mites; microscopic parasites that infect the top layer of skin, resulting in rashes, irritation, and itching. The mites lay eggs in the skin, which in turn produce more mites. The skin rash that results is an allergic reaction by the body to the mites, their waste, and their eggs.

  • Mites are often challenging to identify and can be confused with pubic lice when the itching is in the genital area. 

How Do You Get Scabies?

Scabies spreads via direct skin-to-skin contact. Obviously, this happens when you have sex, and, indeed, sexual contact is the most common form of transmission. However, scabies can also be transmitted in nonsexual ways, including: 

  • In places where people are crowded together.
  • In places where large groups of people gather, e.g., hospitals, nursing homes, daycare centers, classrooms, dorms, locker rooms, prisons. 
  • By sharing towels, bedding, or clothes.
  • Failing to take regular showers may increase the risk of contracting scabies.

You’re more likely to get scabies through sustained skin-to-skin contact. Therefore, it’s unlikely that you will get an infection from brief skin-to-skin contact, such as shaking someone’s hand, brushing up against someone, or giving someone a brief hug. You also can’t get scabies from sitting on a toilet seat.

  • The transmission of scabies is from human to human. You cannot get scabies from your pets. 

What Does Scabies Look Like?

The most common signs that you have scabies are caused by irritation from the mites. Here’s how to identify scabies:

  • Itching that tends to get worse during the night (known as nocturnal pruritus). Night pruritus is a common early symptom of scabies.
  • Rashes consisting of tiny blisters, pimply-looking bumps, or scales.
  • Small, raised, and crooked tracks resulting from the mites burrowing and working their way under the skin.

Signs that you have scabies typically show up three to six weeks (the incubation period) after an initial infection. However, symptoms can appear within a few days if you’ve previously had scabies and get reinfected.

what does scabies look like

Where Do You Get Scabies?

Bodily areas most commonly affected by scabies include:

  • The webbing skin between your fingers.
  • The bends of your wrists, elbows, or knees.
  • Your groin and pubic areas.
  • In men, the penis and scrotum.
  • Your belly button, thighs, and butt.
  • Your breasts, shoulder blades, and around your waist.

How to Treat Scabies

A scabies infection is certainly uncomfortable, but it does not tend to be dangerous and can be cured. You may ask: how to get rid of scabies? The usual treatment consists of prescribed pills or medicated lotions or creams that kill the mites and their eggs. Symptoms of scabies can sometimes come and go, but the only way to cure the infection is to get treated.

After your treatment, it’s normal to still experience itchiness for a few weeks. However, if the itching persists for longer or other symptoms resurface, you may need another treatment course.

  • Doctors will recommend that your family members also get treated.

How Do I Know if I Have Scabies?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of scabies, the only way to know the cause of those symptoms for sure is to get checked out by a medical professional. If you were recently in close contact with someone who has scabies, you should also get tested.

  • Scabies is easily cured; there’s no reason to put up with the irritation it causes. 
what is scabies

What Are the Complications of Scabies?

If you vigorously scratch your itchy skin, you may cause lesions that create open doors that can let in opportunistic and secondary infections. Among the common complications are bacterial infections like cellulitis and impetigo. There are more severe outcomes from bacterial infections, which you can on the Esteban Kosak López website.

What to Do While Being Treated

While undergoing treatment, avoid sexual intercourse and any kind of intimate contact that could cause someone else to get infected. It’s important to wash the clothing, towels, and bedding you used, and it’s also a good idea to vacuum furniture and carpets. Another effective method is to starve the mites. Gather up all the items that you and other infected persons have been in contact with and seal them in a bag for a couple of weeks. After a few days without food, the mites will die.

Can I Be Safe From Scabies During Sex?

Physical barriers such as condoms which help to avoid contracting an STD, won’t work to reduce your risk of getting scabies. The primary preventative measure you can take is to avoid intimate contact with someone who has scabies. You should also not be sharing towels, bedding, or clothing with an infected person. 

Is Scabies an STD? Final Thoughts

Scabies contracted through intimate sexual contact with another person can be considered an STD. Also, be aware that scabies symptoms can sometimes mimic those of herpes or even syphilis. So, if you have any kind of skin rash on or around the genital area after sexual contact, you should always get an STD test to be on the safe side.  

If You Think You Have an STD, Get Tested Now

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Medically Reviewed by on August 19, 2022

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Author: Esther Jordan

Esther Jordan has been a writer ever since she can remember. She has always loved the free gift of self-expression through journaling, creating stories, and sharing life experiences in front of audiences. Public speaking and creating content has been a strong suit of hers since high school. Immediately after college, she received a paid position as an search engine optimization (SEO) writer in 2010 when SEO was still a very brick and mortar concept for a lot of small businesses. It was a time of do-it-yourself websites and online magic that everyone wanted and either referred to it as SEO or pay-per-click (PPC).