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What Are Scabies?

April 17, 2012

Scabies is a contagious skin infection caused by a very tiny parasitic mite. The scabies mites burrow into their host’s skin and can cause incredibly itching, skin irritation, allergic reactions and red spots or rashes along the skin. Scabies are easily and quickly transmitted through skin contact, so if you know someone who has scabies, please be careful not to touch them a lot or have prolonged skin contact.

Scabies Mite picture

A scabies mite as seen through a microscope. These tiny little buggers will make you itch!

If you’re wondering what are scabies, they’re really just small insects looking for a place to live – and your skin happens to be very convenient for them. Scabies mites are so small many people can’t even see them without a microscope or some seriously thick glasses. They are little eight-legged insects less than half a millimeter in length.

Scabies Rash picture

This is a typical scabies rash, notice the red inflammation in a seemingly random pattern. It itches...a lot!

Despite what many people think, scabies do not jump or fly like fleas can. So the only way to get them is through contact with someone who is infected or with contact of a surface touched by an infected person who left behind a few stragglers. Just being in the room with someone who has scabies is not dangerous as long as you don’t lay in their bed or wear their old clothes.

Just shaking someone’s hands won’t get you scabies. It often takes a lot more contact than that. Most of the time, scabies are transmitted through sexual contact. So it’s always a good idea to make sure your sexual partners have been checked for any STD’s – including scabies.

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