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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:

  • If you are using lindane, do not take a bath beforehand, because it may increase the risk of side effects.
  • Before using a medicine other than lindane, take a lukewarm (not hot) bath or shower. Dry off well with a towel. Do not share this towel with others. To avoid spreading scabies to others, wash and dry the towel at high temperatures immediately after you use it.
  • Remove rings, bracelets, and watches. Apply the scabies medicine in a thin, even layer over the entire body from the neck down. Pay particular attention to the hands (especially between the fingers), the navel, under the breasts, the entire genital area, the area between the buttocks, and the feet (especially between the toes).
  • 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.
  • If you must wash your hands, or if a treated child's diaper area has to be washed after a diaper change, reapply the medicine to these areas.
  • Leave the medicine on for as long as your doctor recommends.
  • Wash the medicine off with lukewarm, soapy water, and dry the skin.

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

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerAlexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology
Last RevisedMarch 14, 2011

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