• Definition

    Scabies is an easily spread skin disease caused by a very small species of mite.

    Alternative Names

    Sarcoptes scabiei

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Scabies is found worldwide among people of all groups and ages. It is spread by direct contact with infected people, and less often by sharing clothing or bedding. Sometimes whole families are affected.

    Outbreaks of scabies are more common in nursing homes, nursing facilities, and child care centers.

    The mites that cause scabies burrow into the skin and deposit their eggs, forming a burrow that looks like a pencil mark. Eggs mature in 21 days. The itchy rash is an allergic response to the mite.

    Scabies is spread by skin-to-skin contact with another person who has scabies.

    Pets and animals cannot spread human scabies. It is also not very likely for scabies to be spread by:

    • A swimming pool
    • Contact with the towels, bedding, and clothing of someone who has scabies, unless the person has what is called "crusted scabies"