Body lice, which are microscopic mites, spread through direct, prolonged contact with a person infected with scabies, reports WebMD. Body lice spread easily between household members and sexual partners and through the sharing of bedding, towels and clothing.
The microscopic mite Sarcoptes scabei causes scabies, which is an itchy skin condition, notes WebMD. The condition may be so intense that it causes sleeplessness. The itching is an allergic reaction that results from toxins released by eggs laid by the female mite, which burrows into the skin. Small red bumps that look like pimples or bites are characteristic of scabies infestations.
Symptoms of scabies may not appear for up to two months after an initial infestation, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nonetheless, the condition is transmissible during this stage, even if the person does not have symptoms. A person with crusted scabies on his body can transmit scabies easily to others, even with brief skin-to-skin contact.
When one person has scabies, it is important for the whole household to receive treatment for the condition, advises the CDC. In addition to medication to treat scabies, all household bedding and clothing worn in the three days prior to treatment should be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer. Non-washable items should be placed in closed plastic bags for up to a week, since the mites do not live longer than three days away from a human host.