How often should you apply scabies cream?

Ah, scabies – everyone’s favorite itchy skin infestation. But fear not, dear reader! We’re here to guide you through the process of combatting these pesky critters and answer your burning question: how often should you apply scabies cream?

First Things First: What is Scabies?

Before we dive into treatment options, let’s establish what exactly we’re dealing with here. Scabies is a highly contagious skin condition caused by tiny Sarcoptes scabiei mites burrowing under your epidermis and laying eggs. Grossed out yet? Yeah, us too.

Pro-tip: Don’t Google image search “scabies” unless you have a strong stomach and an iron will.

Symptoms include intense itching (especially at night), pimple-like rashes or bumps on the skin, and thick crusts from prolonged scratching. However, it can sometimes take weeks for symptoms to show up after initial exposure.

Diagnosis & Treatment

If you suspect you may have caught scabies (perhaps from close personal contact with someone who already has it), your first step should be to visit a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Scabicides are topical creams or lotions that kill the mites responsible for scabies by entering their little burrow homes in your skin. A few commonly prescribed ones include:

  • Permethrin cream
  • Lindane lotion
  • Ivermectin tablets
  • Crotamiton cream

Permethrin tends to be the most popular choice due to its effectiveness and low risk of side effects compared to alternatives like lindane lotion (which has been linked to seizures) or non-FDA-approved home remedies like tea tree oil (not recommended).

When & How Often Should I Apply It?

Now comes the big question – how frequently should you be slathering on that sweet, sweet (or more likely, slightly unpleasant) scabies cream?


The standard regimen for permethrin cream is to apply a thin layer all over your body from the neck down at bedtime and leave it on for 8-14 hours before rinsing off. You should repeat this process one week later to ensure any newly hatched mites are also killed.

Note: Make sure to clean and dry your skin thoroughly beforehand. A hot shower or bath can help open up pores and increase absorption, but don’t use soap during the cleanse as it may interfere with the medication’s effectiveness.

If you’re wondering about how often beyond these two applications – don’t worry! Most people only need that initial double-dose of permethrin followed by basic hygiene practices such as washing towels/bedding in hot water and vacuuming floors/carpets. However, there are still some exceptions:

  • If symptoms persist after a week despite treatment
  • If new burrows/rashes appear after treatment
  • If someone in close contact with you develops symptoms

In these cases, a follow-up visit to the doctor may result in additional advice or prescription medications.

Other Scabicides

Different types of scabicides come with varying instructions for usage based on formulation strength or active ingredients. Here’s an overview of how typically they’re used:

Scabicide Type How Often Should I Apply?
Lindane Lotion Apply once from neck down & leave on for only 4 minutes before washing off; do not reapply unless instructed so by physician due to risk of toxicity
Ivermectin Tablets Take as directed by healthcare provider (usually as single dose); no topical application necessary
Crotamiton Cream Apply twice daily over entire body except face/neck/hairline for 2 days; repeat one week later

Pro-tip: If you’re prescribed a scabicide that doesn’t come with specific instructions (like lindane lotion), ask your doctor or pharmacist about the proper application and risks beforehand.

Additional Tips & Tricks

While using scabies cream is the essential first step to eliminating mites, there are some other things you can do to speed up healing and prevent re-infestation:

  • Practice safe sex. Sexual contact (even just skin-to-skin) is one of the most common ways scabies spread from person to person.
  • Avoid close physical contact with others. While it may be tempting to snuggle up with your loved ones when feeling itchy, keeping some distance during treatment can reduce risk of transmission.
  • Wash clothes/sheets on high heat. This will help kill any stray mites lingering in fabric fibers.
  • Be patient! It usually takes a few weeks after initial treatment for all symptoms/pruritis to subside completely.

Conclusion: Better Safe than Sorry

So, how often should you apply scabies cream? The answer varies depending on which type of medication prescribed – but no matter what you choose, make sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions closely and consistently. Additionally, taking steps like practicing safer sex and washing bedding/towels thoroughly can help eradicate any potential traces of mite residue post-treatment.

Remember – while dealing with a condition as annoying as scabies isn’t anyone’s idea of fun, following through with appropriate care will ensure not only relief for yourself but also protection against its spread among those closest to you.