Can you get scabies from being around someone?
You can get scabies from being in contact with someone who has been infected, but being around someone who has scabies does not necessarily mean you will contact it.
Scabies is a skin disease caused by an infestation of mites known as Sarcoptes scabiei or commonly as scabies mites.
The mites live, feed and reproduce on the human skin, burrowing under the skin in the process, causing rashes to appear.
A common symptom is severe itching which is known to be more severe at night when the mites are most active.
Scabies affects people of all kinds, but is usually popular in institutions such as child care and extended care facilities, nursing homes and prisons.
Scabies usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies.
This explains why scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions where close body and skin contact is frequent. A quick handshake or hug with an infected person usually will not spread scabies.
This is because the number of scabies mites on the body is usually not much, say just above 10 – 15 mites on the body of an infected person yet to show symptoms.
However, holding the hand of a person with scabies for 5-10 minutes could be considered to present a relatively high risk of transmission.
By being around someone who has scabies for long periods of time, you can contact scabies as well.
$exual partners and household members, because of the high chances of continuous body contact, are more likely to get scabies if one of them has scabies.
Scabies can also spread indirectly through shared items that have been contaminated by an infested person.
The chances of getting scabies this way are low but can be very high if the infested person has crusted scabies.
What is crusted scabies?
Crusted (Norwegian) scabies is a severe form of scabies where thick crusts containing large numbers of scabies mites and eggs form on the skin of the infected person.
It usually occurs in some persons with a weak immune system such as the disabled, elderly individuals or persons that are immunocompromised.
Persons with crusted scabies may not show the usual signs and symptoms of scabies such as the rash and the characteristic itching.
Because of the large number of scabies mites and eggs contained within the crust on the skin, crusted scabies is highly contagious and can be easily transmitted through both direct skin to skin contact and contact with contaminated items.
Unlike the typically scabies infestation that is more or less 10-15 mites present on the entire body of a healthy person that is infected, crusted scabies infestation can be thousands of mites on a single person.
Someone with crusted scabies can contaminate items such as bedding, furniture and their clothing by just being in contact with it.
You can get scabies from being around such a person as it is most likely you will come in contact with a contaminated item.
Scabies mites have a life span of 1-2 months living on human skin. But they can also survive away from a human body for more than 48-72 hours.
By coming in contact with items which a person with crusted scabies has been in contact with, it is highly likely you will pick up scabies mites that are still alive and active and get infected.
If I come in contact with a person who has scabies, should I treat myself?
Yes. If you come in contact with a person who has scabies you should begin the process of treatment just to be on the safe side. Early consultation can reduce the risk of transmission. However, you should not practice self medication, rather consult a health practitioner for proper diagnosis and treatment.
If you think you have contracted scabies through contact with an infected person, contact a doctor. The doctor can examine the person, confirm the diagnosis of scabies, and prescribe an appropriate treatment.
Products used to treat scabies in humans are available only with a doctor’s prescription.
What to do if you have been around someone with scabies
In the case where you have been around someone with scabies, you should go for early consultation with a health care provider and begin treatment to prevent further spread.
For a person who has never had a scabies infestation, it will take between 4-8 weeks for symptoms to begin to develop.
So even if you have contracted scabies from an infected person you have come in contact with, it will be difficult to tell as there will be no symptoms up until the 4th week.
Your healthcare practitioner will recommend the appropriate treatment depending on the diagnosis. The treatments which are known are scabicides which are only available with a doctor’s prescription.
Scabicides include both oral dosages and cream or lotion applied on the body. You should not go for over the counter products as none have been tested and approved for humans.
For the treatment to be most effective, strictly follow all the instructions provided by your healthcare practitioner and also leave the medication applied on the skin for the recommended period of time before washing off.
During the period before the symptoms begin to show (the asymptomatic incubation period), you are likely to infect others regardless of the absence of symptoms.
If you do not stay alone. treatment should also be extended to your household members and also your $exual contacts at the same time so as to prevent reinfestation.
Can I get scabies from being around my pet?
No, you cannot get scabies from being around your pet. The mites that cause scabies in humans cannot be spread by animals.
Animals with cases of infestation, known as mange, are infested with a different kind of scabies mite that can only survive or reproduce on animals.
On humans, the mites cannot reproduce and will die in a couple of days.
Although you cannot get scabies from your pet, the mites you pick up on your skin can still burrow under the skin and cause temporary itching and skin irritation.
If your pet has such an infestation, it should be treated to avoid getting those symptoms. However, the animal mite cannot reproduce on a person and will die on its own in a couple of days.
Although the person does not need to be treated, the animal should be treated because its mites can continue to burrow into the person’s skin and cause symptoms until the animal has been treated successfully.