If you have scabies there are a number of things you can do to help manage the condition.
Here’s some self-help information:
- Scabies is easily treated with gentle scrubbing of the skin followed by drying and applying permethrin cream or lotion that you can buy from pharmacies. Follow the application instructions carefully on the bottle. More than one application may be necessary. The lotion must be applied to the whole body so you may need assistance to get to hard to reach areas.
- Treatment for the elderly, infants, people with sensitive skin and pregnant women may vary, so speak to your pharmacist to make sure you buy the correct lotion.
- Treatment lotions are best absorbed after a shower and gentle towel drying.
- Itching may be worse at night after a hot bath or shower, so try to use warm water and pat your skin dry.
The itching might continue for 4 to 6 weeks after treatment. This is often due to an allergic reaction to the mites, or because the treatment has given you contact dermatitis. If the itching doesn’t clear up in a few weeks, see your doctor. It could be that you have been re-infested or the treatment didn’t work properly.
How to prevent scabies from spreading
There are steps you can take to prevent spreading scabies to others:
- Try not to scratch the skin as this can cause the infestation to spread to other parts of the body and may also cause scarring.
- Scabies can live outside the human body for about one day, so it’s possible to get scabies from infected bed linen and clothes. Always maintain personal hygiene and keep bed linen and clothes clean.
- Don’t share personal items such as towels, bed linen and clothing items until the infestation has cleared.
- If you develop scabies it’s important that all members of your household, especially sexual partners, are treated.
- It’s best for individuals who are affected to remain home from work, school or day care, until 24 hours after treatment when they are no longer infectious.
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about your scabies, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: September 2017