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Once a human contracts the scabies "human itch" mite, he can be infested indefinitely as long as the condition goes untreated. The egg cycle of a female scabies mite is very short compared to her overall life cycle 1. Scabies eggs only exist for a short time, after which they hatch and go through two different incarnations before the adult mite is ready to breed and lay more eggs.
The Scabies Mite Finds a Home
All it takes is one impregnated female scabies mite to cause an entire infestation on the human body. Once the female mite finds a suitable habitat on the human host--generally where the folds of the skin touch each other, such as:
- the crooks of the elbow
- webbing of the fingers
- in between the shoulder blades,
- under the breasts--she forms a "burrow," where she begins to lay her eggs
The First Cycle
Scabies eggs take between three and four days to hatch. Three-legged larvae emerge and make their way to the skin's surface, forming shorter burrows called "molting pouches." The larval stage lasts between three or four days, after which the mite molts into a four-legged nymph.
The Adult Scabies Arrives
The scabies nymph again molts--this time into an adult mite who is ready to breed. The innocuous male mites linger in shallow pits in the skin, biding their time and feeding off the human host. Once mite finds mate, the newly-impregnated louse creates a new burrow of her own and begins to lay eggs. Scabies mites live anywhere between one and two months, during which time they lay two or three eggs daily. However, only ten percent of these eggs hatch. Most scabies infections are the result of a minuscule number of female scabies mites.
- The scabies nymph again molts--this time into an adult mite who is ready to breed.
Mange Treatment for Humans
Scabies mites and their eggs can be effectively eradicated on the human body with use of scabicides containing permethrin or crotamiton. These topical lotions are left on the body for around eight hours, after which they are washed off.
Although scabies cannot lay eggs anywhere else but in their burrow, they can survive for 72 hours without a human host. Even after a human infestation is eradicated, personal items such as linens, clothing and sheets need to be washed in hot water and dried on hot air. Items that cannot be laundered may be stored in plastic containers for a few days.
- Although scabies cannot lay eggs anywhere else but in their burrow, they can survive for 72 hours without a human host.
- Even after a human infestation is eradicated, personal items such as linens, clothing and sheets need to be washed in hot water and dried on hot air.
Mange Treatment for Humans
What Happens If Scabies Goes Untreated?
What Are Skin Symptoms of Mites?
Bugs That Eat Human Flesh
Home Remedies for Skin Mites on Humans
What Do Scabies Look Like on Human Skin?
Differences Between Bedbugs & Chiggers
How to Sterilize Against Pinworm Eggs
How to Get Rid of Mites on a Human
- Scabies Life Cycle
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- CDC - Scabies - Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nov 2, 2010.
- Harvard Health Publishing. Scabies. Harvard Health. Dec 2018.
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- Patel VM, Lambert WC, Schwartz RA. Safety of Topical Medications for Scabies and Lice in Pregnancy. Indian J Dermatol. 2016;61(6):583-587. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.193659
- CDC - Scabies - Resources for Health Professionals - Medications. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oct 2, 2019.
- CDC - Scabies - General Information - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oct 24, 2018.
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- CDC. Scabies. Resources for Health Professionals, Medications.
- Micali G, Lacarrubba F, Verzì AE, Chosidow O, Schwartz RA. Scabies: Advances in Noninvasive Diagnosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016 Jun 16;10(6):e0004691. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004691. eCollection 2016 Jun.
Lisa Sefcik has been writing professionally since 1987. Her subject matter includes pet care, travel, consumer reviews, classical music and entertainment. She's worked as a policy analyst, news reporter and freelance writer/columnist for Cox Publications and numerous national print publications. Sefcik holds a paralegal certification as well as degrees in journalism and piano performance from the University of Texas at Austin.