Scabies is a contagious skin infection caused by mites. The mite is a tiny and usually not directly visible parasite which grows under the surface of the skin, causing allergic intense itching. The disease is most often transmitted by prolonged direct skin to skin contact and oftentimes infects multiple members of a household. Initial infection takes 4 to 6 weeks to become symptomatic.


Intense itching occurs over most of the body. Often small, pimple-like bites are present especially on the finger webs, wrists, genitalia and under the breasts. Sometimes linear or S shaped burrows may be seen in these areas.


Scabies mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei


Topical and sometimes oral medications may be prescribed by your physician. Below are
instructions for 5% permethrin, the most common topical medication prescribed.

  • 5% permethrin cream is applied to the skin at bedtime and washed off in the morning (leave it on for 8-14 hours).
  • Scabies usually spares the head and face. Only apply the permethrin to the scalp if you have
    lesions in your scalp and are instructed by your physician.
  • Please apply the cream evenly to all surfaces, including under your nails and on your
    groin/genital area. If you wash your hands after you apply the cream, you need to put the cream on your hands again.
  • The permethrin cream treatment should be repeated in one week.
  • Most often, all members of the home have to get treated to prevent reinfection. Please
    discuss this with your physician. Your physician will recommend all people who live in the home of the person with scabies be treated with permethrin cream to prevent re-infection.
  • Skin lesions and itching may last for 4-6 weeks after treatment.

How do clean my house and clothes?

The mite prefers people over clothes and furniture, but may occasionally be in clothes.

  • Wash all dirty clothes, bed sheets, and towels in hot water.
  • Carpets or upholstery should be vacuumed. After vacuuming the entire house, discard the vacuum bag.
  • Instead of washing items, items may be placed in a sealed plastic bag. This bag should be put in the garage for two weeks. If the mites do not get a meal within one week, they die.
  • Pets do not need to be treated unless you feel that they are losing hair or itchy as well. Please consult your veterinarian.