Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin.
The main symptom of scabies is intense itching that’s worse at night. It also causes a skin rash on areas where the mites have burrowed.
Read more about the symptoms of scabies.
Scabies mites are called Sarcoptes scabiei. They feed using their mouths and front legs to burrow into the outer layer of skin (epidermis), where they lay eggs.
After 3 to 4 days, the baby mites (larvae) hatch and move to the surface of the skin, where they mature into adults.
Scabies like warm places, such as skin folds, between the fingers, under fingernails, or around the buttock or breast creases. They can also hide under watch straps, bracelets or rings.
Read more about the life cycle of the scabies mite.
How scabies is spread
Scabies is usually spread through prolonged periods of skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, or through sexual contact.
It’s also possible – but rare – for scabies to be passed on by sharing clothing, towels and bedding with someone who’s infected.
It can take up to 8 weeks for the symptoms of scabies to appear after the initial infection. This is known as the incubation period.