Preventing Scabies

Key Points

  • Avoid direct skin-to-skin contact with a person with scabies.
  • Avoid sharing items such as clothing or bedding used by a person with scabies.


To control the spread of scabies,

  • Treat all household members and close contacts at the same time as the infected person.
  • Wash all clothing and bedding used during the three days before treatment began.
  • Items should be machine-washed using hot water, dried on the hot cycle, or dry-cleaned. Temperatures in excess of 50°C or 122°F for 10 minutes will kill mites and eggs.
  • If you can't wash or dry clean an item, store it in a closed plastic bag for several days to a week to disinfect it.

Scabies mites generally do not survive more than 2 – 3 days away from human skin. Children and adults can return to childcare, school, or work the day after treatment.

Risk factors

Aggressively treat crusted (Norwegian) scabies to prevent an outbreak. Outbreaks in institutions can be difficult to control and require quick action to prevent further spread.

Animal Impact

Animals do not spread human scabies. Pets can become infected with a different kind of scabies mite. This is what causes mange in animals. The scabies mites that infest animals cannot survive or reproduce on humans. However, they can get under your skin and cause temporary itching and irritation. Therefore, it's important to treat all animals infected with mange.