Scabies Transmission


Scabies Transmission: Cause and Prevention of Scabies Scabies is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact. It can also be transmitted by sharing items such as clothing, towels and bedding. “Crusted” scabies is a more severe form of the disease that occurs in persons who are immune-suppressed, such as those with HIV/AIDS, cancer or are taking certain medications. These individuals may spread the infestation to others by direct contact or by shedding mites into the environment, allowing for passive spread of scabies. Crusted scabies is an emerging public health problem in some countries.

Scabies can affect any age, sex, race or social group. Those living in crowded conditions are particularly susceptible due to close physical contact and sharing of personal items. However, scabies can also be transmitted in hotels, hospitals and nursing homes where people have close physical contact (often with those who have crusted scabies) and share the same facilities.

Scabies Transmission

Cause and Prevention of Scabies

Scabies is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact.

Scabies can be transmitted to your face, head and neck by sharing towels, pillows, sheets or wearing someone else’s clothing.

Scabies may also be transmitted by touching furniture or other household items that have been used by a person with scabies. You cannot get scabies from animals.

The incubation period (the time between being infected until the rash appears) ranges from 2 to 6 weeks.

The first sign of scabies is often an itchy rash on the hands and feet. The itch is usually worse at night, in warm weather or after a hot bath. The itch can be so intense that it interferes with sleep, resulting in severe exhaustion and irritability. In infants, the signs may be different and more severe than in older children or adults.

Secondary bacterial infections (pustules and crusts) commonly occur as a result of scratching the itchy skin. This infection may cause permanent scarring (especially in children).

In many cases the disease causes intense itching but few rashes are seen. If you suspect you have scabies see your doctor immediately because early treatment will reduce the chance of

Scabies is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact. It can also be transmitted indirectly through towels and bedding, especially if these items have been used by an infected person. A person must be in close physical contact with an infected person for at least several minutes to contract scabies. Scabies is more common in children than adults because they tend to be closer to other children and don’t know the importance of avoiding direct skin contact.

Scabies is not spread through casual contact like sitting on the same furniture or through coughing and sneezing. Direct skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies is necessary for infection to occur. You cannot catch scabies from pets.

Scabies can spread very easily in crowded conditions where there is frequent skin-to-skin contact between people. Nursing homes, child care centers, schools, prisons, homeless shelters and other places where people are in close quarters are prime spots for infestation. Scabies is often referred to as the seven year itch because it can take up to seven years to become immune to infestation once you have been exposed to it.

The disease is caused by the microscopic mite Sarcoptes scabiei. Mites burrow into the skin, depositing eggs and causing an allergic reaction. The mites prefer warm, moist areas of the body. They can live up to two months on a human host.

Scabies cannot be transmitted through objects or possessions. There are rare cases of transmission with prolonged direct skin contact, but this is considered a very low risk. For example, holding hands will not transmit scabies. Scabies cannot be caught by sitting on the same toilet seat as an infected individual; however, if someone with scabies sits on a toilet seat it is possible for another person to contract scabies from that seat within a few hours of the infected individual leaving. The longer the infected individual has been sitting on the toilet seat, and the warmer it is in the bathroom, the greater the likelihood of transferring scabies.


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