How is the scabies transferred?

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

Do you have your own experiences or a different opinion? Then write a comment (please observe rules).
Comments (31)
31 Monday, 06 August 2018 at 02:00
I am quite athletic and have a strong immune system. But a few days ago I got the disease and I still have it. I am afraid to never get rid of them again.
Transmission scabies
30 Thursday, June 21, 2018 at 20:03
Miner Nicole
Unfortunately, most of the transmission options are not right here. There are different scratch mites. And certainly you can get infected in beds - such as hotels, guesthouses, hospitals, nursing homes. If you read a lot here, you will feel sick. Even a visit to the doctor is enough if a person with mites settled in front of you in the upholstered chair.
29 Saturday, May 5, 2018 at 08:58
I still go to school and have learned that a girl who used to sit next to me for an hour has scabies. But I had no longer-term touch with her. But I also used her pencil. And now I do not know if it can be transferred that way?
Please help me.
28 Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 16:36
My colleague probably has scabies. The doctor said that he can only diagnose that in 2 weeks. Now I wanted to ask if the scabies are transferable by saliva or more frequent hugging? We get along well and are often together.
27 Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at 18:02
I have moved now. Got a couch from a friend. This was rarely used, but was covered with a blanket. Is transmission by dust mites possible? However, the diagnosis of the doctor has confirmed it. But I do not know how it could happen. I have not had intimate physical contact with anyone for over a year.
Are there other diseases with the same symptoms?
26 Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 14:26
Thank you so much for the quick response, just for us sufferers is a great psychological burden, because you do not want to infect anyone else with it and burden. Thanks again, that my question was answered ...
LG Vonni
Transmission via electric blanket
25 Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 12:32 pm
Navigator editors
Hello Vonni,
theoretically possible, but very unlikely. Is also in the post that it needs more intensive contact.

Hello everyone:
Comments and own experiences welcome, but please do not ask us any more.

best regards
Your navigator team
24 Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 11:31
My colleague and I sit on the work in turns (shift change) on the same chair. Since it is cold, we are sitting on an electric blanket - of course at the same time. Can I infect my colleague with this?
scabies transmission
23 Friday the 1st of December 2017 at 20:31
My friend has scabies and is currently being treated. As you know, after the first treatment you should wait 10 days to do it a second time. I am aware that I should avoid body contact with him during this time.But my question is, if I can still kiss him or do you also transmit the mites ?! Request for a quick answer :)
Please wash at 60 ° C
22 Friday, September 22, 2017 at 08:59
Navigator editors
Hello "Help",
look here: kraetzebefall-vor.html
21 Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 12:58 pm
Received scabies a few days ago. I pulled everything off and now I wash and wash. Have already applied the ointment.
My question is. Can I get infected again with the clothes I wash?
20 Monday, September 11, 2017 at 2:45 pm
Lara kiss
Hello, I have a question: Can scabies be transmitted via saliva or hug?
to Mattes
19 Monday, April 17, 2017 at 19:12
Navigator editors
Hello Mattes,
even a good doctor will not be able to judge that from a distance. So do not deport girlfriend, but off to the family doctor or dermatologist.
LG from the navigator team
infection symptoms
18 Sunday, April 16, 2017 at 4:43 pm
I have learned through my new girlfriend that she has been scabbed by her ex. It is already healed according to her doctor, all right! ....
Now my arms are very slightly red, but it does not itch in any way! .... right from the belly button, on the belly also a reddish spot (similar to chickenpox of the kind) ... Is that just an allergic reaction to anything (creamed me with cream) or are these the first signs that I my girlfriend should deport and should see a doctor as soon as possible?
17 Sunday, November 27, 2016 at 07:32
I work in a facility for people with disabilities and there is currently someone who has been infected with scabies. Body contact can not be avoided due to the disability of this person. So my question is, how long will it take to be sure I'm infected? So far I have no significant symptoms and the affected person is already in treatment. Is the person still so infectious?
16 Monday, September 26, 2016 at 10:11
Can I dry my hands by sharing the guest towel in the bathroom and have my nanny share nail oil?
clothing store
15 Tuesday, 06. September 2016 at 21:02
Hello! I think I have scabies (whole family has them). Can I still work in the clothes shop?
to Hannah
14 Saturday, 4 June 2016 at 16:45
Navigator editors
Hello Hannah,
yes, because the carriers are the mites, not the symptoms. And the mites are often there long before the symptoms.
All the best and kind regards
Your navigator team
13 Saturday, the 4th of June 2016 at 08:54
Hannah B.
Hello, can there already be a transmission before symptoms have occurred in the affected person?
To Natasha
12 Thursday, 02 June 2016 at 13:44
Navigator editors
Hello Natascha,
10 weeks are a lot, but this is unthinkable that it is the scabies. Especially since the mites can also be stuck in garments. But only a local doctor can decide.
Best regards
Your navigator team
11 Thursday, 02 June 2016 at 13:28
We visited friends about 10 weeks ago who had the scabies, as we later learned, were there for a few days. Now we get a lot of small pustules between the fingers and on the hand, do not itch always, can it still be scabies?
to Sebastian
10 Monday, 07 March 2016 at 17:07
Navigator editors
Hello Sebastian,
please just study our other contributions to the topic.
Best regards, Your navigator team
9 Monday, 07 March 2016 at 16:39
Hello, my neighbor may have been infected with scabies.My question is: Can one become infected without direct contact? (By using the same front door or by his shoes standing in front of the door) Thank you for your information
Scabies by short touch very unlikely
8 Friday, the 08th of January 2016 at 07:02 o'clock
Navigator Team
Hello Lena,

It is very unlikely to get scabies about measuring your blood pressure. Of course, this is impossible to judge seriously from afar, but most likely the genital rash has another cause.

Best regards
Your navigator team
Is scabies transmissible via the blood pressure cuff?
7 Thursday, the 07th of January 2016 at 18:43
I work in the hospital, where we had a patient with scabies but did not know anything about the condition. I measured blood pressure on the patient but had gloves on. After that I measured blood pressure with the same cuff in other patients, but this time without gloves.
Is it possible for me to have infected with the mites?
After about 4 weeks, I have a small rash in the genital region, but it does not itch, it burns only once. Could this be scabies anyway?
Many Thanks
Scabies transmission by embrace unlikely
6 Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 09:16
Navigator Team
Hello Bonny,

Actually, we have already answered below and in the question above. A scabby transmission through a hug is unlikely because more intense and prolonged body contact is "necessary." But medicine is not mathematics. There are also exceptions to the rule, where there is a transmission even with minimal contacts. That is very rare.
As for the hugging, perhaps for safety's sake you might say that you had a scabby problem at the time, but without spreading panic, because in all likelihood nothing has happened. In addition, a scabies is also quite treatable.

Best regards
Your navigator team
5 Monday, 9th November 2015 at 21:12
Thank you dear team ..... I am calmer now
Can one generally be infected by a short hug?
rather no cause for concern
4 Monday, the 09th of November 2015 at 18:50
Editorial office navigator medicine
Hello Bonny,

There is no guarantee, but a brief hug infection is unlikely.

Best regards
Your navigator team
3 Monday, 09. November 2015 at 18:39
I also got infected somewhere and somehow and was shocked when the doctor told me that .... also immediately with the cream and wash everything started immediately ... now my question .... after the 6th day I hugged someone to congratulate ... Was that contagious or not anymore .... I'm so nervous and insecure ...
Can someone help me?
2 Friday, April 10, 2015 at 17:00
my wife and I, we have it in the vaginal area, they already have an abscess. Can both be treated in hospital
Transmission / Symptoms Scabies
1 Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 9:32 pm
My 16-year-old daughter was infected by scabies with friends, occasionally sleeping there in non-freshly-coated beds. Nobody knew at that time that the scabies were circulating there. In the meantime, I no longer cuddle with my 16-year-old daughter, now and then there is a hug, there is no more physical contact. Since it was not known at some stage that she had already become infected with scabies, a transfer of scabies to me could have occurred due to the following factors:
Use of the same towels, beds on the same couch, use of non-disinfected shared toilet.
For my daughter it now looks like after infection over 2 months ago, as if the scabies after 3-4 times treatment with peremetrin survived.
With me I have the suspicion that after 3 treatment in 2 months still mites are there (new drilling tunnel), now also on the head. I suspect the mites on my head because I can feel there under the hair "Wimmerl".
Since I knew from the beginning in my case that it can only be scabies (we were both at the dermatologist), I treated them always promptly, so that it hardly itched or led to larger pustules.
My recommendation in addition to the instructions for use of the mediz. Anoint:
In any case treat all family members prophylactically
After treatment, immediately put on fresh clothes and
Do not use the same bed / sofa / pillows for several days
Do not put on infected shoes and jackets for several days
Exactly research on the Internet, because there are information to find that do not contain the instructions for use of the ointments
I still have to research the topic "tea tree oil". That could be an extra help.
So I hope now to be able to kill the animal finally.