Scabies: The 10 Most Common Causes of Scabies


Scabies, also known as the seven-year itch, is one of the most common types of skin infections. Scabies is caused by mites that burrow into your skin and lay eggs, which leads to an itchy rash that appears as small red bumps on your skin.

While scabies is typically not dangerous, they can lead to secondary infections such as impetigo or cellulitis if you scratch the rash excessively or don’t take treatment seriously. One way to ensure you avoid these infections is to learn about what causes scabies and how you can prevent getting them in the first place.



  1. Folliculitis
  2. Tinea corporis
  3. Tinea cruris
  4. Carpet mites
  5. Demodex infestation
  6. Lice
  7. Pediculosis pubis (pubic lice)
  8. Crusted scabies
  9. Secondary infection
  10. Skin bacteria

1) Folliculitis

Studies suggest that folliculitis can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Folliculitis is usually minor and clears up on its own. In most cases, it’s treated with hot compresses and a warm bath.

If your case is severe or doesn’t clear up after several days of treatment, talk to your doctor about further measures. Mild cases often respond well to over-the-counter lotions containing 5 per cent benzoyl peroxide or 2 per cent salicylic acid in a base of glycerin or lactic acid.

For stubborn cases, stronger prescription creams may be necessary; these often contain combinations of hydrocortisone and antibiotics such as clindamycin or erythromycin.

2) Tinea corporis

caused by several kinds of dermatophytes (ringworm fungus) including Microsporum, Epidermophyton, and Trichophyton species. This infection can be mild to severe. Mild cases may produce red skin with scaling but do not itch or spread to other areas of your body.

There may be a small area where hair is lost, or you may have a general feeling that your skin itches or something don’t feel right in one area on your body.

The most common cause for tinea corporis is T rubrum and M canis, although M gypseum and M audouinii are less common causes. Less often there is involvement from Candida albicans.


3) Tinea cruris

If your scabies is caused by an allergic reaction to a fabric, detergent or another common irritant, you may notice that symptoms flare up after the physical activity.

This could include exercise, sweating, using lubricants and more. Tinea cruris is another common cause of scabies that causes itchy bumps on your inner thighs and genitals.

Since tinea cruris can be caused by several factors (including yeast infections), your doctor will need to test for it as well. If you’re not sure what’s causing your itchy rash and tests don’t reveal anything else, ask your doctor about tinea cruris.

4) Carpet mites

Unlike bed bugs, which typically prefer to live in human dwellings and find their food source in people (usually at night), carpet mites are more likely to live outdoors.

They don’t have mouths, so they can’t bite you or suck your blood for nourishment—they feed on dead skin cells that accumulate on household surfaces. In some cases, an infestation can occur after someone has moved out of a house with heavy carpets and into a building without them. After moving, he or she develops itchy rashes that only appear at night and often resemble insect bites.

This is because carpet mites tend to come out at night to go hunting; they’re attracted by movement and body heat.

5) Demodex infestation

Demodex is a mite that lives on the skin; it is part of your skin’s ecosystem. It lives in hair follicles and sebaceous glands, making its home within your pores.

Generally harmless, it eats old skin cells. When you have an infestation problem with Demodex (as when scabies takes hold), there are usually too many mites to eat all your dead skin cells, so they make their way onto your hair shafts and travel around like hitchhikers, looking for food on other areas of your body to live on and breed more mites.

Some people might have a genetic susceptibility to having more Demodex than others.


6) Lice

The eggs of head lice are cemented to hair shafts, usually at one end. Eggs hatch within 1-2 weeks. Head lice are spread through direct head-to-head contact. Head lice infestations have increased in recent years because frequent close contact with other children is a common occurrence among students in daycare centres and schools.

Also, sharing combs and brushes and sleeping together (or even snuggling) may expose some children to lice; frequent physical contact can lead to an infestation. Once an infestation is established in a family or household, everyone needs to be treated at once.

7) Pediculosis pubis (pubic lice)

An infestation of lice is technically known as pediculosis. This common type is called pediculosis pubis or crab lice because it burrows into the hair in and around genital areas. Although these insects don’t carry disease, they can be very itchy and unpleasant.

The most common symptoms include itching or tingling (usually around your pubic area) as well as a visible red rash that appears where you have scratched—although both may not occur at once.

For women who have recently given birth, nursing mothers or people with suppressed immune systems, getting rid of these pests can be more difficult than for others.

8) Crusted scabies

Also called Norwegian scabies, crusted scabies is a particularly severe form of scabies in which infestations occur on many areas of your body. People with crusted scabies tend to experience thick crusts on their skin and are extremely contagious.

Although crusted scabies can cause severe itchiness, it’s unlikely that anyone else will notice because you won’t have any symptoms besides those characteristic crusts. Crusted scabies usually occurs in people who already have weakened immune systems—those with cancer or HIV or people taking certain types of medications that suppress immunity. It can also affect young children and older adults who have little resistance to infection.


9) Secondary infection

Another major cause of scabies that you should keep in mind is secondary infection. When you have scabies, your immune system will usually be weakened which leads to secondary infections that can get worse, especially if it’s not properly treated on time.

It is because a scabies mite will bite its host and at some point pass its eggs to them as well. Aside from what happens when the mite gets mature and lays eggs on its host’s skin, a scabies mite can also transfer pathogens or germs to its host which can further cause an infection or illness.

It is because these pathogens or germs may already be living on our skin and are just waiting for an opportunity to invade our bodies.

10) Skin bacteria

Microscopic organisms, including bacteria, play a role in causing scabies. Bacteria (and other microorganisms) feed on skin oils and dead skin cells.

This can cause patches of dry skin that crack or break easily, especially between fingers and toes. Increased sweating due to exercise or hot weather may also lead to dry areas on your body where bacteria can enter easily.

When bacteria penetrate into your skin during a microscopic gap in your outer layer of dead skin cells, it can trigger an immune response—causing bumps and itching as well as producing allergens that cause further irritation. Repeated scratching causes itchy red spots—the classic rash seen with a scabies infestation.


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