How do you get Scabies?

No doubt from the minute you found out you had the mites you were wondering where they hell did I get

these demons from? 

Apart from allowing us to vent our frustration to the person or place who gave us this affliction, it’s actually a really good thing to know to not get reinfected once you’ve cured yourself.

So where Scabies are most often found?

Related: How to Get Rid of Scabies at Home Fast

13 places you’re most likely to pick up scabies

You have the highest likelihood of picking up the mites in highly populated places and places that aren’t cleaned frequently. Mites will sit for days waiting for a new carrier if the area they were left on stays hospitable for them.

Crowded spaces is pretty broad, so let’s look at specific establishments.

Location #1) The gym

I’m pretty sure this is where I picked them up.

In the gym you encounter LOTS of shared surfaces: weights, machines, mats, showers, saunas. It’s huge risk area for mites.

Also many people use the provided towels, which are not always cleaned thoroughly under hot enough temperatures.


  • Avoid going to the gym if you pick up or ever hear of anyone else picking up the mites. You don’t want to spread them and you don’t want them spread to you.
  • Bring your own towels. bring enough towels so that you can dry off and use them to sit on if you choose to use the sauna or sit down on a bench.
  • If you cons

Location #2) School

Again, lots of people and lots of shared surfaces. Also, kids aren’t known for being overly clean. 


  • If you have children or are a student yourself be very aware of any health updates your school is putting out. When cases of scabies break out the administrations in most schools will take some preventative measures and warn their students.
  • Be pretty clean yourself. Carry around sanitizer and use your own towels if you are in the gym often. There’s not much else you can do other than this.

Location #3) Your work place

If you’re work environment has a lot of people then it is a likely target for the spread of mites. Be mindful of a spread and request that your coworkers get treated if the mites show up.

Location #4) communal housing

When people live together pretty much everything is shared virus wise. 

When you share the same couches, same bathrooms, same kitchen and same everything else pretty much all of your colds and anything else transmittable will spread.


  • At the very first sign of infestation get everyone treated in your living space. If you hesitate to treat everyone then there is a high chance that your time with the mites will be prolonged. 

Location #5) Motels, hotels and hostels

I read a lot of stories from families who picked up scabies while traveling. It seems to be very common, especially in hostels. 


  • Read reviews of the places you stay at. Often times a yelp review can save you from staying in a place notorious for having scabies. If a facility isn’t kept clean then it is unlikely to be approved unless it changes management.

Location #6) Nurseries and daycare

Again, bugs get spread very easily among children. With all of the hands on play and sharing of clothes a whole group can become infected before symptoms are even seen.

Location #7) Traveling hubs

Travel hubs like airports and train stations bring a lot of people together. They all pile into small forms of transportation. This is another easy place to spread mites.

Location #8) Picking up hitchhikers

I’m not profiling here. I actually really like hitchhiking. BUT, for those living an on the road lifestyle it is often hard to get treatment so they tend to have the bugs longer. Moving around like this they also have a higher likelihood of picking up mites in the first place.

Location #9) Hospitals

For seeming such a sterile environment hospitals can actually be one of the easiest ways to contract scabies. With overworked staff often unable to handle upkeep for each patient to have a clean visit.

Location #10) Retirement home

People enter retirement homes right around the time they’re ability for self care declines. For this reasons mites can easily spread amongst the elderly in a communal living arrangement.

Location #11) thrift stores

Sifting through a thrift store clothing rack is quite obviously going to expose you to a lot of potential pathogens and bugs. 


  • If you’re buying clothes from a thrift store consider bringing them home and washing them BEFORE you try them on. I know it’s an inconvenience, but so is scabies.

Location #12) Sports team locker rooms

You remember that time the whole high school wrestling team got jock itch? Well it could have just as easily been scabies. 

Location #13) Homeless Shelters

Homeless people are far less likely than others to find the resources to cure themselves of scabies. So sadly, it spreads amongst them quickly. Lots of volunteers at these shelters have picked up scabies on the job.


If you have or have had scabies it is a really good idea to try to find out where they came from so you can stay away. Also do everything you can to inform others so they don’t have to go through what we did.

How do you get Scabies? by


  1. I am a security officer and I work around people outside and inside a grocery store. I think I have scabies. I haven’t got treated yet. But I am going to soon. Should I be OK to work or not

    • Sorry for the late response. If you can avoid spreading the mites by covering up, then I would say don’t have make it worse by losing money from not working. But also be very cautious about picking up the mites again while you go through treatment, you can’t be sure from whom or what surface you picked them up in the first place.

  2. I’ve gotten scabies the first time many years ago after traveling around Europe, as well as from the gym years after the first infestation. I recently got scabies and I think I got it from a passenger bus between two different cities. Those suckers are annoying.

  3. I was just diagnosed with scabies after suffering for a month. I have put permethrin cream on. Am I contagious? Can I spread it from folding sheets? Giving someone a hug? Shaking hands? Standing next to? Donating platelets? Can I spread it by sitting on a couch? Sitting next to someone at a restaurant?
    I am going insane and there are more questions????

  4. I got them from trying on a pair of pants I got at Walmart. People need to be careful of trying on clothes from places like Walmart or Target or big stores–really any store, but more likely in stores that do a lot of volume. My thinking is to put them in the dryer for a good long hot cycle before trying them on–or spray them with disinfectant. I’ve heard of other people having the same thing happen.

    I also think that people with dry skin like myself are less likely to have them spread as fast, and those with not-so-dry skin may have a harder time? Also Ivermectim can be gotten at USA Pharmacy and Canadian pharmacies without a script online, but people should thoroughly check out any of the warnings and allergic reactions people can have.

    I got them in my eye area and ears (hardly any place else except for the crotch from the pants) more recently from scratching at night initially. Many doctors say not but, yes, you can according to other doctors. The solution for eyes is to use petroleum jelly on eyelash areas and corners–don’t use the permethrin cream for the eyes because you can damage your eyes. Doctors also say you can’t get them on your face and scalp. Yes, you can–maybe some people don’t. I have read that you can still itch up to six weeks after treatment, even though you have gotten rid of them, and I’ve experienced that.

    Also, I had it another time, several years ago, gawd yes, and I itched for a long time after the treatment, but then it just stopped, and was permanently gone–I wasn’t reinfected. Then, some months later I was itching again. I went to the dermatologist and he gave me a prescription because he said they can build layers–it doesn’t mean you are infected again, but you may have hit a burrow layer that is still surfacing. I forgot what medication he gave me for it, but I was in the middle of a move and didn’t get to it right away. That telltale itching just went away by itself, and never resurfaced again. I think that a lot of people think they are re-infected when it is clogged burrows and layers of burrows that are still surfacing. They may not be reinfected, but still sloughing off stubborn burrows/layers.

    That former episode with scabies I had, I was dealing with some heavy duty sickness from a rare disease I have, and frankly I didn’t shampoo the carpet, nor did I obsess too much on cleaning and laundry after the treatment. I think you have to be reasonable, but I don’t think you have to obsess. I didn’t wear gloves, and I didn’t bleach or disinfect every little thing constantly, and the treatment worked, and I didn’t reinfect. Maybe it was because I was in bed a lot. And maybe it’s because I have such dry skin.

    Also there are two types of scabies: crusted and regular scabies. The crusted is much more contagious, but involves crusted skin. Also, since I don’t get the erupted skin so much, I recognize scabies by the itching and the little white tiny dots (about like the head of a pin) and tinier black slivers (which are what they use to burrow with) that slough off. If you use a dark washcloth, you can see the white dots, or a white washcloth to see the black slivers. Many sites insist that they are microscopic, and you can’t see them but, yes, you can see those white dots and black slivers.

    Thank you so much for your extensive posting on dealing with this–so sorry for lengthy post, but thought it might be useful. If you had karma, I am sure you are burning it off with this incredible good deed S.

  5. P.S. I think children and people 64 and older are more apt to get eye, ear, and scalp (thinner hair) involvement (tender immune systems).

  6. Although it sucks to be infested, it takes 6-7 weeks before they are noticeable for most people. This means, you aren’t going to figure out where you got them, so forget it.

  7. I think I got mine from lying down in the business class section of a plane! The blanket can’t have been clean….


  1. […] hosts to scabies. For more ideas of places that you might have picked up mites from, check out this post on our How do you get Scabies […]

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