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Scabies in Children


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 sleeping in the same bed, or sharing towels or clothing. Scabies can spread quickly and must be treated as soon as it is found.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child develops a fever and red, swollen, painful areas on his or her skin.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

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


  • Prescription creams are used to treat scabies. You will need to apply them over all of your child's body from the neck down. Do not let your child swallow this medicine. An oral medication may be ordered if scabies is severe.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

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

Prevent the spread of scabies:

  • Treat all family members with scabies medicine. Tell anyone who has shared your child's 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 your child has 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 let your child have close body contact with anyone until the scabies mites are gone. Ask about public places your child should avoid, such as the park.

Help relieve your child's itching:

Your child's 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. Ask your child's healthcare provider what medicine you may use for the itching. Trim your child's fingernails so he or she does not spread any mites that are still alive after treatment. Do not let your child scratch his or her skin. Scratches may cause a skin infection. Put mittens on small children to keep them from scratching. A cool bath may also help relieve your child's itching.

Return to school:

Your child may return to school 24 hours after using scabies medicine.

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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.

Further information

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