How is scabies transmitted from person to person?

Updated: Oct 13, 2020
  • Author: Megan Barry, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Answer

Transmission of scabies is predominantly through direct skin-to-skin contact, and for this reason scabies has been considered a sexually transmitted disease. The mite does not penetrate deeper than the superficial layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum.

A person infested with mites can spread scabies even if he/she is asymptomatic. [6] There may be a prolonged interval (up to 10 wk) between the primary infection, when the patient becomes contagious, and the onset of clinical manifestations. [7] Scabies is less frequently transmitted by indirect contact through fomites such as infested bedding or clothing. However, the greater the number of parasites on a person, as in crusted scabies, the more likely that indirect contact will transmit the disease.


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