June 2019
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Scabies provides information for prisoners, their families and Corrections staff about the treatment and prevention of scabies. Symptoms include a rash and itchy skin, which can develop an infection if scratched and left untreated.

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June 2019
A5 pad of 25 leaflets
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NOTE: This Department of Corrections resource cannot be ordered from this website. All men’s prisons throughout New Zealand received hard copies of this resource in July 2013. 

What is scabies?

Scabies causes a very itchy rash. Tiny insects (mites) lay eggs under the skin. The skin gets small blisters with red patches around them.

Why is it important to treat scabies?

Scabies won’t go away without treatment. It can lead to more serious infections.

Who gets it?

Anyone! Even very clean people get scabies.

Washing with soap and water doesn’t stop you getting scabies and it doesn’t get rid of scabies.

How do you catch it?

You get it through:

  • close bodily contact, eg, holding hands, hugging, sleeping together
  • sharing clothes and bedding.

Scabies does not live in furniture or carpets.

How do you know you have it?

Scabies causes a very itchy rash. It’s worse at bedtime or when you are warm.

You may first notice the rash between your fingers, on your wrists, inside your elbows, around your waist, on your bottom or on your private parts.

If you are worried about scabies, talk to the health centre nurse. Put in a health request form (health chit) to see a nurse.

How to treat scabies

A nurse will give you some cream and tell you how to use it.

Scabies won’t go away without treatment.

It’s best to treat scabies just before going to bed.

  • First, have a shower and dry yourself.
  • Cover your whole body with cream, from the chin down to the bottom of the feet, including between the fingers, under the nails and on the private parts.
  • Put your night clothes on.
  • Leave the cream on all night. (If you wash your hands, put the cream back on your hands. It needs to stay on all night.)
  • Next morning, have a shower and put on clean clothes.
  • To stop scabies from spreading:
    • all clothes worn against your skin in the last week must be washed in hot water
    • sheets, pillowcases, towels and facecloths should be washed in hot water (not blankets, duvets or quilts)
    • your nurse may tell you to repeat the treatment.

The itchiness will not stop straight away. It can take up to four weeks for the itch to stop. You can ask the nurse for something that will stop the itch.

One treatment should get rid of scabies. If you still have the rash and itch after four weeks, put in another health request form.

Preventing scabies

Don’t share a bed or clothes with someone who has untreated scabies.


This resource is based on information from the Ministry of Health resource Scabies, May 2011.