An itchy penis can be an occasional annoyance, requiring a discreet scratch every now and then, or it can be more aggressive, keeping a guy’s hands on his penis constantly and requiring medical attention to address it. One of the more annoying and persistent causes of an itchy penis is the presence of scabies, and guys concerned about penis health definitely will want to know more about them. What are they? Where do they come from? And most importantly, how does a guy get rid of them?

What are scabies?

Many people confuse scabies and pubic lice, but they are actually two different things. Pubic lice (also called crabs) are tiny parasites (usually smaller than 2 mm) that look somewhat like crabs. Scabies, on the other hand, is actually the name of the condition caused by a mite (Sarcoptes scabiei) - but people generally refer to the mites themselves as scabies. They are smaller than lice, less than 1 mm, and tend to have a body with two parts to it - although they’re so small it’s hard to get a good look at them.

Although mites of both sexes may be found on a person, it’s only the female mite that causes scabies. The female likes to dig into a person’s skin, go down a layer or so, and then lay her eggs. The presence of the mites causes an allergic reaction, which almost always brings forth a rash and is also characterized by extreme itching. Scratching them can cause them to become sore or infected, or to crust over. Occasionally the mites’ burrowing may leave tiny lines on the skin.

The first time a person gets scabies, it may not occur until quite some time after the mites have appeared, usually taking two to six weeks for the rash and itching to start. But after that first time, if a person gets scabies again, it can appear much earlier, often in 24 hours or so.

Where do they come from?

So just how does a guy get these little pests, especially on his treasured penis? Scabies are almost always passed on from one person to another through direct skin-to-skin contact. And typically it takes an extended period of contact for them to leap from one body to another. So if a guy with scabies was in a crowded locker room and his penis accidentally brushed against another guy, there’d be little chance of passing on scabies. It’s more likely to happen when he’s in bed with a partner. All that prolonged genital contact could lead to an itchy penis. (Scabies are not always limited to the penile area, of course. They could be passed on during sex from torsos rubbing against each other, or from leg-to-leg contact, for example.)

Scabies can be passed on through non-sexual contact as well, such as from using the towels, clothing, etc. of an infected person.

How to get rid of them

If a guy suspects he has scabies, he should see a doctor promptly to confirm (or disprove) his self-diagnosis. If scabies are present, the doctor will prescribe appropriate medication. (No approved over-the-counter treatments are available.) The medication is typically in the form of a lotion or cream.

Usually, if one member of a household has scabies it is recommended that the other members also get treatment.

An itchy penis, whether caused by scabies or other reasons, can be a major pain. Regular use of a first rate penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin) can help alleviate some of the itching, especially from more common causes. Be sure the crème contains both a high-end emollient (such as Shea butter) and a natural hydrator (such as vitamin E), as keeping the skin well moisturized helps reduce itching. The best crème will also contain alpha lipoic acid, a potent antioxidant that fights free radicals and helps penis skin retain its health.