Scabies is a skin infestation that can be passed easily between people. It is caused by tiny mites which are like extremely small insects. The scabies mite (also known as Sarcoptes scabei) is a small eight-legged parasite about one third of a millimetre long. The mites burrow into the upper layers of the skin and lay eggs along the way. Small blisters, red spots and itchy red patches form on the skin above the burrows. Scabies mites prefer thin hairless skin, and for this reason concentrate in sensitive areas such as between the fingers, on the wrist, on the elbow, on the bottom and genitals, and around the waist.
The mites are very sensitive and can only live off the human body for 24 – 36 hours and do not survive in furniture or carpets.