Medical Q&As

Scabies - clothes infested?

I was told I had had scabies a couple of months ago. I have treated it, but just before I was diagnosed I bought some clothes, which I just tried on in the shop. Do I have to throw them away? I can't wash them at high temperature because that would spoil them. Is it possible that they might be infested just because I had them on for a few minutes?

It is not necessary to throw the clothes away nor do you have to wash them at high temperature. Neither do you have to soak them in antiseptic. Your question suggests that you haven’t worn the clothes since you bought them in which case it is very likely that the scabies mite (Sarcoptes scabei) has not survived. In order to survive, Sarcoptes scabei requires an ambient temperature close to 37°C, which is normal body temperature. Also, once the clothes are immersed in water and washing powder the mite cannot survive. It is perfectly acceptable to wash the clothes in a washing machine in accordance with the clothes manufacturer’s instructions. It is not necessary to wash them separately from other clothes. They can then be placed in the airing cupboard along with other clean clothing before they are worn again.