Scabies does not go away on its own. If you have scabies, everyone around you who may have also caught scabies must be treated at the same time as you.

How do you prepare for treatment?

  • Go to your GP or pharmacy for cream or tablets.
  • Make sure you have disposable gloves, rubbish bags and plenty of detergent at home.
  • Get three days of clean clothing and towels ready, along with two sets of clean bed linen.

Treating scabies with permethrin cream

Follow these treatment steps:

  • Cut fingernails and toenails short.
  • Put the cream all over, from your jawline down to the bottoms of your feet. Remember your armpits, perineum, groin area and the spaces between your toes. Use an old toothbrush to put the cream under your nails. Ask someone else to put the cream on your back. This person should put on disposable gloves.
  • When putting the cream on babies and young children, include their head.
  • Leave the cream on for 12 hours. Put cream on the groin area again after using the toilet.
  • When you change your baby’s nappy, put cream on again before putting the clean nappy on.
  • After 12 hours, take a shower and dry off using a clean towel. This towel must have been washed at 60 °C or must have been in a sealed rubbish bag for three days.
  • Put on disposable gloves and collect the dirty laundry, towels and bed linen from the last three days. This includes woolly hats, scarves, hijabs and other head coverings, cloth or fabric shoes and cuddly toys.
  • Wash everything at 60 °C on a full wash cycle. If your laundry does not all fit at once, put the rest in sealed rubbish bags for three days or until you can wash it at 60 °C.
  • Put items that cannot be washed at 60 °C in a sealed rubbish bag. Put the bag away for three days in a separate room where the temperature is between 18 and 20 °C.
  • Vacuum everything made of fabric that you cannot put in the washing machine or rubbish bags, such as the sofa, fabric chairs, carpet and rugs and dog bed.
  • Put clean bed linen on the bed for the night ahead.
  • The next day, wash this bed linen and your pyjamas and clothing from the day before at 60 °C.

After seven days, everyone must repeat the treatment, including putting on cream and washing all clothing and bed linen. Itching will slowly get better after treatment. It will go away after around six weeks.

The step-by-step instructions for treating scabies with permethrin cream contain a detailed checklist for these steps, which you can use to keep track of what you need to do each day. Step-by-step instructions for treatment with tablets will be made available soon.

Treating scabies with ivermectin tablets

Follow these treatment steps:

  • Take the dosage of tablets prescribed by your doctor. The dosage will depend on your weight.
  • Put on disposable gloves and collect the dirty laundry, towels and bed linen from the last three days. This includes woolly hats, scarves, hijabs and other head coverings, cloth or fabric shoes and cuddly toys.
  • Wash everything at 60 °C on a full wash cycle. If your laundry does not all fit at once, put the rest in sealed rubbish bags for three days or until you can wash it at 60 °C.
  • Put items that cannot be washed at 60 °C in a sealed rubbish bag. Put the bag away for three days in a separate room where the temperature is between 18 and 20 °C.
  • Vacuum everything made of fabric that you cannot put in the washing machine or rubbish bags, such as the sofa, fabric chairs, carpet and rugs and dog bed.
  • Put clean bed linen on the bed for the night ahead.
  • The next day, wash this bed linen and your pyjamas and clothing from the day before at 60 °C.

After seven days, everyone must repeat the treatment, including taking the tablets and washing all clothing and bed linen. Itching will slowly get better after treatment. It will go away after around six weeks.

Your contacts must be treated as well

Notify everyone around you who may have also caught scabies and make sure they are treated at the same time as you. This includes:

  • household members;
  • people with whom you have had sex;
  • people with whom you have shared a bed in the last six weeks;
  • people with whom you have had regular or prolonged skin-to-skin contact (longer than 15 minutes) in the last six weeks (e.g. while hugging, kissing, dancing, holding hands, doing physiotherapy or exercising);
  • people with whom you have shared clothing, towels or bed linen in the last six weeks.

Household members, people with whom you have had sex and people with symptoms must complete two rounds of treatment. Other contacts will need one or two treatments, depending on what the GP or GGD recommends.