Date of this Version



© 1996, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


The life cycle, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of scabies infestations in humans is addressed.

Scabies is a contagious disease of humans and other mammals. It is caused by the mite, Sarcoptes scabiei, which burrows into the dead layer of the human skin (stratum corneum). Sarcoptic mites are obligate parasites which spend most of their lives in burrows in the skin. If the mite invades a person's skin, and establishes itself, symptoms of scabies will become apparent, although it may take four to six weeks.

Scabies is transmitted from person to person by close personal and prolonged skin contact. Transmission also occurs when people are sleeping together and can be common in families, dormitories, institutions and nurseries. While it may be possible to acquire a scabies infestation via inanimate, contaminated items of clothing or bedding, this is not generally regarded as a significant method of transmission.