Basically, there are two types of scabies: direct physical contact (including sexual intercourse), and indirect sharing of beds or (more rarely) personal items such as clothing, pillows, bedding, cuddly toys or blood pressure cuffs.
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Transmission through intensive skin contact
The transmission of a single mated mite female or two larvae of different sexes is theoretically sufficient for infection with the scabies. However, these stages are present in immunocompetent people with mite infestation, ie those whose immune system works well, only in small numbers on the skin. Therefore, usually a long-lasting and intense body contact must exist so that it comes to a transfer of the scratch mites.
Various scientific references indicate 15-20 minutes as the required time span. As a result, merely shaking hands or touching objects is usually insufficient to infect the scabies.
Risk factors for the transmission are:
- high number of mites
- frequent, long-lasting body contact
- Community facilities (kindergarten, school, home etc.)
- lack of hygiene
- bad immune status
The many requests from your side show that scabbing is a stressful topic for many people who are affected or worried that they might be - and it is back on track.
It's worth reading through the various question-and-answer posts on the subject of scabies, which contain much of the information that has been asked here. This is fast ... We summarize here again briefly the transmission options, which we have already mentioned almost all in answering various questions.
The mites like it cuddly
Important to know: Transmission is usually by direct and prolonged skin-to-skin contact of the scabies mites (Sarcoptes scabiei variatio hominis). Therefore, in most cases a transfer between children and their parents, between partners or between people in need of care and their carers. Outbreaks in community facilities also take place again and again.
Only with the severe form of the scabies (Scabies crustosa, disseminated scabies) can even single detached scales lead to infection. The longer the itch mites are separated from their host, the human, the lower is their infectivity. According to scientific findings, in the typical indoor climate (21 ° C, 40-80% relative humidity), they are unlikely to remain infectious for longer than 48 hours.
From "work" to "wool blankets": how big is the risk of transmission?
Here again summarized and in alphabetical order the requested by our readers transmission paths and the respective assumed transmission risk:
- Work: transmission risk normally low; in community facilities (for example, kindergarten, school, old people's or nursing home), however, a residence and work ban for the affected persons already applies to suspected scabies (§ 34 Infection Protection Act)
- Welcome kisses: no transmission risk
- Touching objects: transmission unlikely
- Bed: do not sleep in the same bed with a person with scabies
- Bed linen: transfer possible, but rare
- Blood pressure cuff: unlikely to be transmitted
- Couch, blanket: transmission rather unlikely; nevertheless prefer to vacuum strongly or do not use for several days
- Guest towel: transmission rather unlikely, but rather change after use
- Objects or sharing of objects (eg pencil, electric blanket, chair): transmission is unlikely, especially in case of short-term contact; mite-free after 7 to 14 days airtight packaging at least 21 ° C (or after 2 hours at -25 ° C, commercial freezer compartment: usually only -18 ° C)
- Community facilities: high transfer risk; Visit for sick persons (even with suspicion!) Only after the first proper treatment (if necessary with a medical certificate) allowed
- Handshake: no transfer risk
- Dust mites: no scab (other genus), but allergy risk
- Electric blanket: transmission unlikely
- Clothing: transmission risk low; To remove itchy mites safely, put clothes in the washing machine for at least 10 minutes at ≥ 50 ° C, then in the dryer
- Body contact: transmission risk is the higher, the more frequent, narrow or extensive and lasting (at least 5-10 minutes) the body contact takes place; Avoid body contact with a sick person for safety's sake
- Kissing: transmission unlikely
- Nail oil: no transmission risk
- Room: Transmission unlikely, especially if not used for 2 days
- Shoes on the door: transmission unlikely
- Saliva: no transmission risk
- Chair: transmission unlikely
- Textiles: transmission possible, but rare
- Toilet seat: transmission unlikely
- Doorknob: transmission unlikely
- Hugging: no transfer risk
- Underwear: transfer possible, but rare
- Bandages: transmission possible, but rare
- Blankets: Transfer possible but rare
Author: Dr. Hubertus Glaser