Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Scabies treatment

2-minute read

Self care

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

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results


Human scabies is caused by an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis).

Read more on WA Health website

Scabies -

Scabies iscaused by tiny mites that burrow under the skin and cause intense itching and sometimes a rash. Scabies can be passed from one person to another, but you can'tcatch it from a

Read more on myDr website

Scabies - ACD

Scabies is a condition that occurs as a result of infestation with a tiny mite (parasite) called Sarcoptes scabei var hominis.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Scabies self-care -

Scabies (body lice) is caused by a mite (Sarcoptes scabiei), which triggers an allergic reaction and intense itching. Find out what products are available for scabies.

Read more on myDr website

Scabies treatment & causes: kids & teens | Raising Children Network

Scabies is an itchy rash that looks like red threads on the skin. Read about scabies in children, with information on scabies causes and scabies treatment.

Read more on website

Scabies - Better Health Channel

If you have scabies, your sexual partners and all members of your household will also need to be treated.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Scabies | National Centre for Farmer Health

Scabies is caused by small mites (Sarcoptes scabiei) that penetrate into the skin. These mites are too small to see, but cause the skin to become very itchy and irritated. The onset of itchiness is quite sudden when scabies are contracted. Read more...

Read more on National Centre for Farmer Health website

Scabies (sexually transmitted infection)

Scabies is a highly contagious skin infection caused by tiny mites that burrow into your skin. The condition can be transferred through sexual activity.

Read more on WA Health website

Parasites - NT.GOV.AU

Scabies, strongyloidiasis, naegleria fowleri, malaria, head lice, parasites in the Northern Territory.

Read more on NT Health website

Pruritus with no rash - ACD

Pruritus means itch. Itching is a very common symptom of skin conditions such as eczema, scabies, insect bites and hives. These skin conditions are characterised by the presence of a rash.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo