Instructions for using scabies medications

To successfully treat scabies, all members of an affected household must be treated at the same time. Follow these instructions when using medication 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 medication other than lindane, take a lukewarm (not hot) bath or shower. Dry off well with a towel. Do not share this towel with others. Wash and dry the towel at high temperatures immediately after use to avoid spreading scabies to others.
  • Remove rings, bracelets, and watches. Apply the scabies medication 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 medication 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 medication 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 medication to these areas.
  • Leave the medication on for as long as your health professional recommends.
  • Wash the medication off with lukewarm, soapy water, and dry the skin.

Do not apply the scabies medication more often than is recommended by your health professional.

Last Updated: March 30, 2009

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology

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