Where do Scabies Come From?

Scabies has been around for a long, long time.  In fact, there are ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics that seem to depict people who have the mite.  But where do scabies come from?  And how do you catch it?

First of all, scabies comes from other people.  It is spread from person to person.  It tends to spread rapidly when people live in close, crowded environments, like nursing homes or day care centers.  Infants and children are more likely to catch it than adults.  The elderly are more likely to catch it.  And people who care for them are more likely to be exposed and catch it.

Scabies is spread by skin to skin contact, which makes children and infants more susceptible.  They are held a lot more by adults, and they are in close contact with each other.  It also can spread through infected linens, towels, and clothing.  So if someone doing the laundry in a nursing home gets the mite in her clothing and goes to change the next bed, she can spread it to someone in that room.

Is there anything that can be done to stop the spread of the mite?  Avoiding personal contact if you know you have it can help.  Make sure that clothing and sheets are carried in a basket, not in the arms.  Also, the person carrying the clothing should wear disposable gloves, and throw them away once they are in the wash.

Some people also suggest that sulfur powder can help stop the mite.  In fact, placing sulfur in the home was frequently done in medieval times as a method of preventing or getting rid of scabies.  It may help work as a repellent, and it doesn’t hurt to try it if you are at high risk of catching it.

So where do scabies come from?  From other humans.  You can’t get it from pets or other animals.  You can get from surfaces, as the mite lives for up to three days without a human host.  Taking steps to stop the mite from spreading, as well as seeking treatment if you are infected, is the first step towards eradicating this pest.


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