Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

Treatment

Suggested General Guidelines

It is important to remember that the first time a person gets scabies they usually have no symptoms during the first 2 to 6 weeks they are infested; however they can still spread scabies during this time.

In addition to the infested person, treatment also is recommended for household members and sexual contacts, particularly those who have had prolonged direct skin-to-skin contact with the infested person. Both sexual and close personal contacts who have had direct prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an infested person within the preceding month should be examined and treated. All persons should be treated at the same time to prevent reinfestation.

Products used to treat scabies are called scabicides because they kill scabies mites; some also kill mite eggs. Scabicides used to treat human scabies are available only with a doctor’s prescription. No “over-the-counter” (non-prescription) products have been tested and approved to treat scabies. The instructions contained in the box or printed on the label always should be followed carefully. Always contact a doctor or pharmacist if unsure how to use a particular medicine.

Scabicide lotion or cream should be applied to all areas of the body from the neck down to the feet and toes. In addition, when treating infants and young children, scabicide lotion or cream also should be applied to their entire head and neck because scabies can affect their face, scalp, and neck, as well as the rest of their body. The lotion or cream should be applied to a clean body and left on for the recommended time before washing it off. Clean clothing should be worn after treatment.

Bedding, clothing, and towels used by infested persons or their household, sexual, and close contacts (as defined above) anytime during the three days before treatment should be decontaminated by washing in hot water and drying in a hot dryer, by dry-cleaning, or by sealing in a plastic bag for at least 72 hours. Scabies mites generally do not survive more than 2 to 3 days away from human skin.

Because the symptoms of scabies are due to a hypersensitivity reaction (allergy) to mites and their feces (scybala), itching still may continue for several weeks after treatment even if all the mites and eggs are killed. If itching still is present more than 2 to 4 weeks after treatment or if new burrows or pimple-like rash lesions continue to appear, retreatment may be necessary.

Skin sores that become infected should be treated with an appropriate antibiotic prescribed by a doctor.

Use of insecticide sprays and fumigants is not recommended.

Medications Used to Treat Scabies

Products used to kill scabies mites are called scabicides. Scabicides used to treat human scabies are available only with a doctor’s prescription. No “over-the-counter” (non-prescription) products have been tested and approved to treat human scabies.

The instructions contained in the box or printed on the label always should be followed carefully. Always contact a doctor or pharmacist if unsure how to use a particular medicine.

Related Links

For Health Professionals
 
Contact Us:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Rd.
    Atlanta, GA 30333
  • 1-800-CDC-INFO
    (1-800-232-4636)
    TTY: 1-888-232-6348
    Hours of Operation
    8am-8pm EST/ Monday-Friday
    Closed Holidays
  • Contact CDC-INFO
  • Page last reviewed: November 2, 2010
  • Page last updated: November 2, 2010
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC-INFO