Itchy? Help! How to deal with scabies

Feeling itchy? Red skin all over your body?

Bad news: scabies is on the rise in Antwerp. But what exactly is scabies and what can you do about it? We’ll tell you all about it!


Frequently asked questions about scabies

Scabies is an infestation of the skin caused by tiny mites that set up show in the outer layers of the human skin.  In fact, they’re too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Common symptoms are:

  • Itching all over your body (fingers wrists, armpits, ankles…)
  • At night the itching often gets worse
  • Tiny burrows are visible on the skin
  • Red-purple blisters near your groin area
  • Sensitive, red skin caused by scratching

Symptoms may take up to 2 to 6 weeks to develop. In other words, you might have already contracted scabies without feeling itchy. Symptoms may develop later.

No, you will not get sick from scabies. You could feel very itchy and have sensitive skin. Your general practicioner (GP) can prescribe you medicine to treat your symptoms.

Ja, scabies is very contagious through:

  • Intensive skin contact (ca. 15 minutes).
  • Long-term contact with contaminated linen and bedding.

Scabies is not contagious right away when meeting or talking to someone. Short social contacts such as a handshake are not a problem. But we’d advise against steamy nights for a while!

The good news: scabies is not transmitted by air. So you can leave your face masks in your cupboard.

Scabies is curable and not dangerous. It’s got nothing to do with personal hygiene, so there is no need to feel ashamed.

Visit a GP or campus doctor
Scabies can only be be cured with prescription medications that kill the mites. Treatment is a cream or lotion that is applied to the entire body from the neck down in most cases. It is left on for 8 to 14 hours and then washed off. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe pills to treat scabies

Are you living in a student community? Inform your fellow students and ask them to make a medical appointment as well, including those without visible symptoms.

Clean and wash everything thoroughly 

  • Wash all clothes and bedding on at least 50°C or put them in a freezer.
  • Put all other clothing in a plastic bag together with any pillows, blankets and rugs). Close the bag tightly and isolate it for at least 5 days.
  • Vacuum all mattresses
  • After vaacuming put fresh linnen on the mattress.
  • Clean your house or student flat thoroughly with water and soap.