Scabies are small bugs (mites) that burrow under the skin and cause red bumps and severe itching. These bugs can only be seen with a microscope. Scabies are highly contagious. They can spread easily from person to person by direct contact. They are also spread through sharing clothing or linens that have the scabies mites living in them. It is not unusual for an entire family to become infected through shared towels, clothing, or bedding.


  • Your caregiver may prescribe a cream or lotion to kill the mites. If cream is prescribed, massage the cream into the entire body from the neck to the bottom of both feet. Also massage the cream into the scalp and face if your child is less than 1 year old. Avoid the eyes and mouth. Do not wash your hands after application.

  • Leave the cream on for 8 to 12 hours. Your child should bathe or shower after the 8 to 12 hour application period. Sometimes it is helpful to apply the cream to your child right before bedtime.

  • One treatment is usually effective and will eliminate approximately 95% of infestations. For severe cases, your caregiver may decide to repeat the treatment in 1 week. Everyone in your household should be treated with one application of the cream.

  • New rashes or burrows should not appear within 24 to 48 hours after successful treatment. However, the itching and rash may last for 2 to 4 weeks after successful treatment. Your caregiver may prescribe a medicine to help with the itching or to help the rash go away more quickly.

  • Scabies can live on clothing or linens for up to 3 days. All of your child's recently used clothing, towels, stuffed toys, and bed linens should be washed in hot water and then dried in a dryer for at least 20 minutes on high heat. Items that cannot be washed should be enclosed in a plastic bag for at least 3 days.

  • To help relieve itching, bathe your child in a cool bath or apply cool washcloths to the affected areas.

  • Your child may return to school after treatment with the prescribed cream.


  • The itching persists longer than 4 weeks after treatment.

  • The rash spreads or becomes infected. Signs of infection include red blisters or yellow-tan crust.