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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.


Seek care immediately if:

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

Contact your healthcare provider 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.


  • Prescription creams are used to treat scabies. You will need to apply them over all of your body from the neck down. Do not swallow this medicine. An oral medication may be ordered if scabies is severe.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him 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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

Prevent the spread of scabies:

  • 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 since 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 healthcare provider about how long you need to wait. Also ask about public places to avoid, such as the gym.

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.

Return to school or work:

You may return to school or work 24 hours after using scabies medicine.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.