Scabies -- human itch mites -- burrow into your skin, lay eggs, and cause intense itching. They’re very contagious and spread from one infected person to another through direct, prolonged close physical contact. The mites can live on the human body for 1 to 2 months. They can also live in bedding or furniture for 48 to 72 hours.
The only way to keep scabies away is to avoid prolonged, direct skin-to-skin contact with a person who has them. You also want to avoid touching items, like bedding or clothing, that the person has used.
If you, or someone in your home, has scabies or has been exposed to it, seek treatment right away. Everyone in your home should be treated at the same time to prevent possible re-exposure or re-infestation.
Other things you can do to prevent the spread of scabies include:
- Wash all clothes, bedding, and towels used within 3 days before beginning your treatment in hot, soapy water. Dry them on high heat. Dry clean items you can’t wash at home.
- Place items you can’t wash, like stuffed animals and upholstery, in a sealed plastic bag and stow away for at least 72 hours. This will starve the mites.
- Clean and vacuum each room in your home, then throw away the vacuum cleaner bag.
- Before you have sex with a new partner, make sure he or she doesn't have scabies.