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Scabies

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

Scabies is a skin condition that is caused by scabies mites. Scabies mites are tiny bugs that burrow, lay eggs, and live underneath the skin. Scabies is spread through close contact with a person who has scabies. This includes having sex, sleeping in the same bed, or sharing towels or clothing. Scabies can spread quickly and must be treated as soon as it is found.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You develop a fever and red, swollen, painful areas on your skin.

Call your doctor if:

  • The bites become crusty or filled with pus.
  • You have worsening itching after scabies treatment.
  • You have new bite or burrow marks after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

You may need the following:

  • Prescription creams are used to treat scabies.
    • Apply a thin layer of cream onto your entire body from the neck down.
    • Leave the cream on for the amount of time that is required for the medicine you are using. This may be between 8 to 14 hours.
    • Take a bath or shower to wash all medicine from your skin after the scabies treatment is done.
    • Put on clean clothes after you have rinsed the medicine off. You may need another scabies treatment in 7 to 10 days if you continue to have symptoms.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Help relieve itching:

Your skin may continue to itch for 2 or 3 weeks, even after the scabies mites are gone. Over-the-counter antihistamines or cortisone cream may help relieve itching. Trim your fingernails so you do not spread any mites that are still alive after treatment. Do not scratch your skin. Scratches may cause a skin infection. A cool bath may also help relieve the itching.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

Prevent the spread of scabies:

  • Have all family members use scabies medicine. Have all family members use scabies medicine. Tell all sex partners and anyone who has shared your clothing or bed for the past month about the scabies. Tell them to ask their healthcare provider for scabies medicine even if they have no itching, rash, or burrow marks.
  • Wash all items that you have used starting 3 days before you learned about your scabies. Use hot water to wash all clothing, bedding, and towels. Dry them for at least 20 minutes on the hot cycle of a dryer. Take items to be dry cleaned that cannot be washed in a washing machine. Place any clothing or bedding that cannot be washed or dry cleaned in a closed plastic bag for 1 week.
  • Do not have close body contact with anyone until the scabies mites are gone. Talk to your provider about how long you need to wait. Ask about public places you should avoid, such as the gym.
  • Return to work or school 24 hours after using scabies medicine, or as directed.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Scabies

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Symptoms and treatments

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.