Scabies is a common skin problem caused by small human mites. These mites burrow into the skin and cause an itchy rash. Scabies is not caused by poor hygiene but is contagious.

In young infants, the rash may occur on the scalp, body, arms, legs, and diaper area and may appear as large red bumps. In older children and adults, the rash is most often seen on the hands (especially between the fingers), the underarms, the genital area, and the waist.

Scabies is very contagious and is spread by close physical contact.  Many family members or caregivers can be affected. The amount of rash and itching will be different for each person. Even after treatment, rash and itching may last for several weeks.



  • Infants over 2 months of age and children are treated with permethrin 5% cream (Elimite). The treatment should be repeated in seven days.

  • Young infants and pregnant women are treated with 5% precipitated sulfur in petrolatum. Treatment should be done once a night for 3 nights in a row, with the treatment repeated in one week. ­­

  • For infants, apply the medicine to the scalp, forehead, body, arms, legs, hands, feet and diaper area.

  • For older children and adults, apply the medicine from the neck down to the feet, covering all body areas. Also apply it between the fingers and toes and in the genital area. Leave the medicine on overnight (8-14 hours). In the morning, wash the medication off with soap and water.


Your doctor may also prescribe a topical corticosteroid cream and/or an oral antihistamine to help with the itching.


Oatmeal baths, Sarna lotion or Eucerin Skin Calming Itch Relief lotion may be helpful. These are available over-the-counter. It is very important that all family members and close contacts such as babysitters and playmates are treated at the same time. If even one person still has scabies, re-infestation can easily occur.


Wash all bedding, towels, and clothing in hot water during the treatment time. Items that cannot be washed, including clothing and stuffed animals, should be dry-cleaned or placed in a tightly sealed plastic bag such as a garbage bag for seven days. Furniture, mattresses, and rugs do not need to be treated.