Scabies Cream Application Instructions

This article will detail the proper methods of applying the most commonly prescribed scabies creams, including: permethrin, sulfur in petrolatum, tea tree oil, and lindane. Make sure to see a doctor and get a definitive scabies diagnosis before applying any of these creams. Moreover, be vigilant of any potential skin infections, or broken skin, as complications could arise in those situations.

For the most part, the following set of application instructions are universal, meaning that each treatment has the same set of application instructions. That being said, each treatment for scabies may require a different number of doses. This will be discussed following the application instructions.

Scabies Cream Application Process

Below are the most commonly cited set of scabies cream application instructions. Be sure to seek and follow your doctor’s advice in regards to these application instructions, as they may vary slightly from person to person.

1. Remove any jewelry you’re wearing

2. Cut your fingernails and toenails short, as the cream should be applied as far under the nails as is possible.

3. Take a lukewarm bath or shower before you go to bed. This helps open up the pores so that the medication can be absorbed more easily.

Note: this is not always recommended when applying Lindane, as it may increase the risk of side effects, so check with your doctor.

4. Thoroughly dry yourself off afterwards (be sure to subsequently wash and dry the towel in high temperatures).

6. Apply the scabies cream evenly throughout the body, from the neck down. Make sure to cover the areas that the scabiei mites are most attracted to, as are shown in the picture to the right.

Note: in infants and some young children, it is recommended that the cream is applied to the entire body, including the face and head. Be sure to ask your doctor if this is recommended or not.

7. Leave the medication on for as long as is advised by your doctor (it will vary from medication to medication. More on this below).

8. Wash the cream off afterwards and then dry the skin.

Notes on Common Scabies Medications


Permethrin is usually left on overnight (8-14 hours). Most of the time, only one application is necessary. However, in some moderate to severe cases of the disease, a second round of treatment may be recommended 10 days after the initial treatment.

Permethrin is not generally recommended for infants, but it is, by and large, believed to be safe for children and pregnant women. (related articles: scabies and pregnancy, scabies in children).


Lindane is usually left on for 6 hours. Subsequently, a second dose will likely be recommended one week later. If you are using lindane, applying the solution after a bath or shower is not always recommended, so check with your physician.

Lindane is perhaps the most dangerous of all scabies treatments, so be sure to strictly follow any doctor recommendations.

Sulfur in petrolatum

Sulfur in petrolatum (5-10%) is applied for three consecutive days. On each day, this scabies cream is left on for 24 hours, and then washed off. Sulfur treatments are often used fairly often to treat pregnant women and infants with scabies.


Crotamition is a common scabies treatment for infants; it is also left on 24 hours, washed off, and then reapplied again for 24 hours.

Scabies Cream Application – Related reading: Disinfecting the Household After a Scabies Infestation, Scabies and Pregnancy, Scabies in Children, Natural Treatments for Scabies, Scabies Treatment (the Homepage).

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