When female scabies mites find their way to a human host and tunnel under the skin, it causes the itching and rash symptoms associated with scabies.
Scabies mites are spread by close, prolonged physical contact with a person who is already infected. The mites are most often spread among members of the same household who regularly come in contact with each other. Furthermore, scabies can spread by sharing articles of clothing, towels or even bedding with a contaminated person. In addition to sharing household materials, scabies can spread between sexual partners -- intercourse is one of the more common ways that adults contract and spread scabies [source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].
Because symptoms of scabies usually don't appear until several weeks after infestation, people often spread the mites to others during this period. This makes it difficult to prevent the spreading of scabies between people with increased levels of direct contact with others. This is why crowded institutions such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities and prisons are commonly the site of a scabies outbreak. However, it doesn't take large crowded buildings to pass the mites -- an entire family can become infested with scabies before anyone realizes there is a problem.
Furthermore, scabies symptoms are often misdiagnosed or ignored because they look like small pimples or mosquito bites. The mistaken diagnoses isn't corrected until several weeks later, when it becomes clear that the bumps are not pimples or mosquito bites but something else entirely. This delay can make scabies more difficult to treat [source: MedicineNet]. Speaking of treatment, read on to learn about scabies remedies.