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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Scabies - Topic Overview


How is it treated?

Scabies won't go away on its own. To get rid of it, and to keep from spreading it to others, you need to use a special cream or lotion that a doctor prescribes. These products contain permethrin or another medicine. In severe cases, your doctor may also give you pills to take.

Most creams or lotions are applied to the entire body from the neck down. In most cases, you leave the medicine on for 8 to 14 hours and then wash it off. Be sure to read and follow all instructions that come with your medicine.

Children can usually return to day care or school after treatment is completed.

Some scabies medicines aren't safe for children, older adults, and women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. To avoid dangerous side effects, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions carefully.

If you have scabies, you and anyone you have close contact with must all be treated at the same time. This keeps the mites from being passed back and forth from person to person. Until scabies has cleared up, you should avoid close contact with anyone and make sure not to share any personal items.

To make sure that all the mites are killed:

  • Wash all clothes, bedding, and towels that you used in the 3 days before you started treatment. Use hot water, and use the hot cycle in a dryer. Another option is to dry-clean these items. Or seal them in a plastic bag for 3 to 7 days.
  • Clean and carefully vacuum the room or rooms used by the person who had scabies.

After treatment, the itching usually lasts another 2 to 4 weeks. It will take your body that long to get over the allergic reaction caused by the mites. Antihistamines (such as Benadryl), steroid creams, or, in severe cases, steroid pills can help relieve itching. Before you use these medicines, talk with your doctor about what is best for you (or your child).

If you still have symptoms after 4 weeks, you may need another treatment.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 07, 2014
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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