Scabies: Brief Version

What are scabies?

Scabies are little bugs (mites) that get under the skin. When your child has scabies, he may itch badly and have little red bumps. Scabies are so small that you cannot see them. Other people in the family may have them, too.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Use a special cream just for scabies.

    Your doctor will give you a prescription for this cream. Put the cream on every part of the body from the neck down. If your child is 1 year old, you do not need to put the cream on their head, neck, or face. For babies less than 1 year old, also put on the cream above the neck. Put it on the forehead, temples, and neck. Do not put the cream around your baby’s mouth or chin.

    Make sure you put on the cream on your child’s belly button, between the toes, or other creases. Leave some cream under your child’s fingernails. Put the cream on all over your child’s body, even in places where your child is not scratching.

    Give your child a bath 8 to 12 hours later to take off the cream.

    Most of the time, one treatment works. If your child has very bad case of scabies, do the treatment again 1 week later.

  • Take care of the itching

    Your child may itch and have a rash for 2 to 3 weeks even after you use the cream. This does not mean that the treatment did not work. Give cool baths to help. Do not use soap. You can put 1% hydrocortisone cream on the itchy spots up to 4 times per day.

  • Going back to school

    Your child can go back to school 24 hours after one treatment with the anti-scabies cream.

  • Treat close family and friends.

    Everyone living in your house should get treated. Your child’s close friends and babysitters also need to get anti-scabies cream. Pregnant women may need a different medicine for scabies. They should talk to their doctor.

  • Make sure to wash your child’s clothes and bedding.

    Machine wash your child’s bedding and clothes that your child wears all the time. Also, wash your child’s, pillowcases, underwear, and pajamas in hot water. Put things that can’t be washed into plastic bags. Keep them in the bags for 4 days. This will kill the scabies.

Call your child’s doctor during office hours if:

  • Your child has sores that get bigger or drain pus.
  • New scabies begin after your child has been treated.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-05-15
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.

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