How do you get scabies?
You can get scabies if you share fabric items with someone who has scabies. For example:
- A bed or bed linen
- Fancy dress or cuddly toys
You can also get scabies through regular or prolonged intensive skin-to-skin contact (longer than 15 minutes). This can happen if you are caring for someone who has scabies, during sex or intimate contact or by sharing a bed.
How to avoid getting scabies
There is no vaccine against scabies and there is no medication you can take to prevent it. But you can take the following steps:
- Do not use clothing or bed linen belonging to anyone who has scabies.
- Avoid skin-to-skin contact with anyone who has scabies.
- Use your own sheets or linen bag when travelling.
- If you are caring for someone who has scabies, wear protective clothing such as a long-sleeved t-shirt, an apron and disposable gloves.
Read about what you should do if you have scabies
Are some people more at risk?
Anyone can get scabies. Some people are more at risk, such as:
- people who live and work in care facilities, such as those for the elderly or disabled;
- people who live closely together, such as in shelters, prisons and student houses;
- travellers who sleep in less hygienic conditions;
- people with multiple sexual partners.
Can I get scabies from an animal?
Yes, you can also get scabies from an animal, but this is a different type of itch mite. Every animal species has its own type of itch mite. These itch mites cannot survive in humans. Most of the time, they only cause itching and at most a slight skin rash. In animals, the symptoms go away on their own after a maximum of three weeks if there has been no further contact with the animal or if the animal has been treated. If you think your pet has scabies, take it to the veterinarian. The condition is also easy to treat in animals. Human mites cannot survive on a cat or dog.