What causes scabies?

Scabies is caused by a tiny insect, called a mite, that digs under the skin and lays eggs. It is spread by skin contact with the infected person or by sharing sheets and clothes 


Your child may have scabies if they have:

  • small blisters that appear on the skin and look like a rash.

Blisters will become very itchy and often start between fingers, on wrists, inside the elbow, around the waist, on the bottom or private parts, and under armpits.

(DermNet NZ)


  1. Visit your doctor, talk to your Plunket nurse or other Well Child provider to get an insecticide cream.
  2. Treat everyone in the household on the same day, even if they don’t have a rash or itch. 
  3. Apply cream all over from head-to-toe, including the soles of the feet.
  4. Leave the cream on overnight.
  5. The same day you apply cream, wash all sheets, pillow cases, towels and clothes in hot water, or put them all in a plastic bag for five days to kill the mites.
  6. Check all other family members you have been in contact with recently.

Once you apply the cream, the blisters or rash will stop spreading, but your child's skin may be itchy for up to four weeks. 

If your child has had scabies, keep them home from daycare or kindergarten until at least one day after the treatment with insecticide cream. 

When to visit a doctor

Occasionally the sores or rash can become infected and will require antibiotics. Call PlunketLine or your doctor if:

  • an area gets redder
  • feels warm to touch
  • starts to swell
  • has pus.

Ministry of Health

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The Government's principal advisor on health and disability: improving, promoting and protecting the health of New Zealanders.