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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Scabies - Home Treatment

All people in the household who have had close skin-to-skin contact with a scabies-affected person during the past month must be treated. This usually includes everyone in the home, even if they don't have symptoms. (Symptoms can take 4 to 6 weeks to develop after a person is infested.)

It is important to treat the bedding and clothing of the affected person to destroy any live scabies mites as soon as prescription treatment begins. To make sure that all scabies mites are killed, follow these steps:

  • Immediately after starting treatment for scabies, clean all the affected person's bedding and the clothing that he or she has worn during the past 2 to 3 days (48 to 72 hours).2 Wash all items in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer. Or dry-clean them.
  • Any items that cannot be washed or dry-cleaned must be placed in a closed plastic bag for at least 7 days.

It is not necessary to make extra cleaning efforts, such as washing the bedding daily or washing walls, floors, or furniture. The exception is for people who have crusted (Norwegian) scabies: Do wash the bedding and clothing daily while this form of scabies is being treated.

Nonprescription medicine for scabies mites

There is no over-the-counter medicine that can cure a scabies infestation. Over-the-counter lice medicines are not strong enough to kill scabies mites. If you think you have scabies, do not use nonprescription products before seeing your doctor, because doing so could make it hard to diagnose your condition.

Nonprescription medicine for itching

You can use one of the following over-the-counter medicines to help relieve itching from scabies:

  • Oral antihistamines (such as Benadryl). These medicines will not interfere with the diagnosis or treatment of scabies. Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.
  • Corticosteroid creams (such as hydrocortisone cream). This type of medicine may make the scabies sores look different and make it harder for your doctor to diagnose the problem. Only use this medicine after your doctor has seen and diagnosed your condition.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 14, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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