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Scabies: Care Instructions


Scabies is a skin problem that can cause a rash and intense itching. It is caused by very tiny bugs called mites that dig just under the skin and lay eggs. An allergic reaction to the mites causes the itching.

Scabies is usually spread by person-to-person contact. It is also possible, but not common, for scabies to spread through towels, clothes, and bedding. Everyone in your household should be treated.

Scabies is treated with medicine. Itching may last for several weeks after treatment.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Use the lotion or cream your doctor recommends or prescribes. One treatment usually cures scabies. Do not use the cream again unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Wash all clothes, bedding, and towels that you used in the 4 to 5 days before you started treatment. Use hot water, and use the hot cycle in the dryer. Another option is to dry-clean these items. Or seal them in a plastic bag for 3 days.
  • Vacuum your whole house on the day you start treatment.
  • An oral antihistamine may help stop itching. You also can use a non-prescription anti-itch cream. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not have physical contact with other people or let anyone use your personal items until you have finished treatment. Do not use other people's personal items until your treatment is done. Tell people with whom you have sexual or close contact that they will likely need treatment.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the mite bites.
    • Pus draining from a bite area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Anyone else in your family has itching.
  • You do not get better within 2 weeks.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.