How does one get Scabies?


Person-to-person contact

I think I know how I got Scabies, both times I have had it.

The first time we were living in another country, and all the evidence tells us one of our kids brought it home from school.  I developed symptoms as well, and we treated our whole family for Scabies.


The second time—I’m pretty sure—was after I spent quite a few hours at, believe it or not, a flea market in the United States.  No, Scabies are not fleas, and I’m not trying to be funny here!  But trust me, I didn’t go back to that flea market for quite a while!

One thing that really bothered me on this most recent occurrence, though, was when my doctor insinuated that the way I got Scabies was by cheating on my wife.  He didn’t actually come out and say it like that, but he kept telling me to behave myself!

The health profession informs us that people get Scabies through close skin-to-skin contact.  I did go to a dermatologist, who was visibly very careful about touching me and told me that Scabies is highly contagious.  Even a handshake with a person with Scabies could be a way to pass it on to someone else.  That is apparently a much more rare way to get it.  From everything I can tell, the way I got it at the flea market was from sitting on a vendor’s chair and talking to him for over half an hour.

Is Scabies a sexually transmitted disease?  It can be.  But it can just as commonly be spread among children playing or in situations where health care workers are treating people with the condition.  It can be a big problem in nursing homes too.

Contact with contaminated items

Because Scabies mites can survive for several days outside the human body, things like clothing, towels, and bedding can spread the disease among people as well.  This fact naturally has implications for minimizing the spreading of Scabies among members of a household or among close friends and within institutional settings.


Fitzpatrick, Thomas B., Richard Allen Johnson, and Klaus Wolff. Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology: Common and Serious Diseases. New York: McGraw-Hill, Medical Pub. Division, 2001. Pp.834.

Turkington, Carol, and Jeffrey S. Dover. The Encyclopedia of Skin and Skin Disorders. New York, NY: Facts on File, 2007. P.318.


Photo used on this page:  Stock photo, posed by models.


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