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Scabies: Using Medicines

Topic Overview

To successfully treat scabies, all members of an affected household must be treated at the same time. Follow these instructions when using medicine to treat scabies:

  • Take a lukewarm (not hot) bath or shower. Dry off well with a towel. Do not share this towel with others.
  • Apply the medicine according to your doctor's directions. In most cases, the medicine is a cream or lotion that is applied in a thin, even layer over the whole body from the neck down.
  • On infants and children, apply the medicine to the scalp, face, and neck as well as the rest of the body. Avoid the area around the mouth and eyes.
  • Trim fingernails and toenails short. Brush the medicine thoroughly under the fingernails.
  • Leave the medicine on for as long as your doctor recommends.
  • Wash the medicine off with lukewarm, soapy water, and dry the skin.
  • Put on clean clothing and change your bed linens. Wash all clothes, bedding, and towels that you used in the 3 days before starting treatment. Use hot water, and use the hot cycle in a dryer. Or dry-clean these items. Or seal them in a plastic bag for 3 days.

Do not apply the scabies medicine more often than is recommended by your doctor.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Last Revised August 5, 2013
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