Scabies Home > Scabies

Scabies is a skin infestation caused by a microscopic mite. It is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with an infested person. Symptoms usually begin slowly, with a minor rash and itching that tends to be worse at night. Treatment for scabies involves killing the mites and treating any family members who have been in close contact with the infected person.

What Is Scabies?

Scabies is an infestation of the skin with the microscopic mite Sarcoptes scabiei.

How Common Is It?

Scabies is a common infection found worldwide, and it affects people of all races and social classes. The condition spreads rapidly under crowded conditions where there is frequent skin-to-skin contact between people, such as in:
  • Hospitals
  • Institutions
  • Childcare facilities
  • Nursing homes.

Causes of Scabies and Transmission Methods

As mentioned, scabies is caused by an infestation with the Sarcoptes scabiei mite and is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person already infested. Contact must be prolonged (a quick handshake or hug will usually not spread it). Infestation is easily spread to sexual partners and household members. It may also occur by sharing clothing, towels, and bedding.
(Click Scabies Causes for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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