Scabies in the Netherlands: it’s a growing problem

Scabies has become quite the problem in the Netherlands β€” and its biggest outbreak is yet to come.

GPs have been diagnosing 15 to 20 cases per week for the past four months, reports De Volkskrant. 😷

What is scabies?

Although we prefer to call it a pest, this small animal is only around half a millimetre in size. The female scabies mite lays eggs under the skin and the eggs and faeces of the mite cause an allergic reaction, usually in the form of itching.

READ MORE | How to survive rats in the Netherlands

Scabies often infests the buttocks, the genitals, and the skin between the fingers and toes. 🀒

The itching is usually worst when it’s warm. We’re definitely taking that extra cold shower tonight. 🚿

While scabies isn’t deadly, they’re a huge pain β€” and in typical Dutch fashion, they like to make curse words out of it. Schurfthekel (scabies dislike) has an unpleasant ring to it.

How can you get scabies?

According to the RIVM (hello, old friend), you can’t contract scabies from short term contact like shaking hands. Instead, you can contract it from intensive, long term contact.

That includes sex, sharing clothes, or hugging people. Scabies is quite common in places where lots of people live together β€” ahem, student housing.

These large accommodations are the perfect disaster of poor hygiene and huge groups of people spending plenty of time together. It’s no wonder scabies is breaking out amongst university students first and foremost.

Scabies in the Netherlands is rather unusual though. The mite usually thrives in tropical areas but the outbreaks seem to get worse in the Netherlands.

What should you do if you have scabies in the Netherlands?

If you suspect you have scabies, doctors will test your dander (flakes of skin) using a microscope or PCR test (and you thought you’ve heard the last of these). Luckily, scabies can be easily treated with ointment and pills.

Doctors recommend that any close contacts and roommates of the infested scabies carrier treat themselves as well. It’s crucial to wash your clothes and bedding properly to prevent the outbreak.

Coronavirus measures helped

For the last two years, the coronavirus measures limited the spread of plenty of infectious diseases, germs, and viruses like headlice and the flu.

Now that the Dutch government dropped all mandatory measures, the Netherlands faces around 50,000 daily coronavirus cases and a new flu epidemic. Yikes!

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Feature Image:Depositphotos
Katrien Nivera πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­
Katrien Nivera πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­
Third culture kid Katrien is a Philippine native living in the Netherlands to finish her master's degree in political communication. You can usually find her trying to organize everything on Notion and the sticky notes app, otherwise, she’s nose-deep in a good book or obsessing over film soundtracks and video games.


  1. 20 cases per week. That’s 80 cases per month. Over 4 months is 360 cases. What’s 360 as a percentage of the 17 million people that live in the Netherlands. That’s 0,002% of the population. Let’s not get too concerned here, please?


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