How contagious is scabies?

Someone I know has scabies.
I don’t really know what it is or how contagious it is or if I’m in danger of getting it. They also have fleas.

Please tell me what you know.

Anecdotal, but it’ll do until a doc turns up. My flatmate borrowed a sleeping bag for one night at a music festival. He got scabies. When he went to the doctor, he came back with enough cream for myself and our other flatmate. So we had exactly the same treatment as he did even though we didn’t have it (nor were we sleeping together :slight_smile: ).

We never did get it, but whether that’s because it’s not as contagious as he was told or whether it’s because the cream worked, I don’t know.

Your acquaintance should cover themselves in an arachnicide lotion asap (for the scabies at least).

There are lots of websites on scabies. Check out CDC. It seems scabies is not very contagious, but not not very contagious.

[obligatory anecdote] I once picked up scabies at a graduation - either from shaking hands or wearing the gown. [/]

Quick summary from antechinus’s CDC link:

Remember that you may not know if you have them for 6 weeks or so. The itching isn’t caused by the presence of the scabies mites themselves, but because of a buildup of their fecal matter. It takes up to 6 weeks for it to build up enough for an itch to start. Your doctor may prescribe the cream preventatively, but you should consider the likelihood of your exposure. There are side effects to the treatment, including (irony, anyone?) itching, burning, swelling, peeling and redness of the skin.

My anecdotal experience: I slept with (and “slept with”) a guy who had a terrible case of scabies he just couldn’t shake. Every time he and his docs thought they had beaten it back, he’d start itching again. This went on for 8 months. During one of his intermitent appears-to-be-clear stages, we slept together on several nights over a four week period - naked, total skin to skin contact. I never caught it, nor did anyone in the house he was staying in, including others who slept in the bed he had after he left.

I had a houseguest over who slept on the couch, and who had scabies. Got scabies myself from subsequently sitting on the couch. Yes, the stuff gets around, it’s contagious and that’s how you catch it (i.e., from other people, not from walking past scabies dens in the woods or something). Kwell Lotion works nicely on the little bastards.