They are a bit like pubic lice except they have eight legs and are related to ticks and spiders.


They can be passed on easily through close body contact and have even been known to be passed on through sharing clothes, towels and bedding – although this is not very common.


Symptoms may not appear for up to ten weeks, but usually include:

  • Itching of the hands, wrists, between the fingers, genitals, abdomen, bottom and feet
  • Red lines on the skin, especially between the fingers and around the wrists

People with pubic lice or scabies can feel generally unwell and run down.  This is where the term ‘feeling lousy’ comes from.


There is very effective treatment available without prescription from most chemists.  These lotions and creams are generally very good at clearing the infestation quickly.  Just take care to follow the instructions on the pack carefully and wash your clothes and bedding on hot wash when you start treatment.  Also, make sure anybody who is likely to have come into contact with your lice gets treated too; otherwise you’ll just keep re-infecting each other.

How to avoid it

It’s very difficult to avoid scabies, but you should avoid having sex until they’ve been treated to avoid passing them on.