Scabies is caused by the
miteSarcoptes scabiei. Scabies
mites are attracted to the warmth and smell of humans. Female mites burrow into
the skin, creating small, threadlike tunnels that you can sometimes see. The
mites lay eggs and leave feces in these tunnels.
How scabies is spread1
- Scabies usually is spread by close, intimate contact, such as
sleeping in the same bed with or touching someone who has scabies. The scabies
mite cannot fly or jump, and it moves very slowly.
- Scabies mites can live up to 36 hours without a human host.
During this time, the mites may spread to other people. Mites usually spread
through skin-to-skin contact. But they can also spread from contact with
clothing, bed linens, and other household and personal items.
- A mite burrows very quickly under the skin, especially in areas
where it is rough or wrinkled, such as the elbows, knuckles, and knees.
Touching or scratching an area that is infested with mites can spread them to
other parts of the body.
- After burrowing under the skin, a female mite lays 10 to 25
eggs before she dies. The eggs hatch into larvae 2 to 3 days later. These
larvae move to the skin's surface and become adults within about 14 to 17 days.
This cycle continues until the mites are killed.
The scabies mite that infests humans does not live on
dogs or other pets. And
animal-transmitted scabies mites do not survive or
reproduce on humans. But they can live long enough on humans to cause itchy
hives or raised bumps that last a few days.
Contagious and incubation periods
contagious. If you have scabies, you can spread mites to other people before
and after you have symptoms, for as long as you remain infested and untreated.
After your first infestation, several weeks may pass before you have symptoms.
You are contagious during this time, which is known as the
If you ever become
infested with mites again, it will likely take only 2 or 3 days for you to
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