How does Scabies Cream Work?

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  • Written By: Sarah Sullins
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 17 June 2019
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Scabies cream works by killing the tiny mites that cause the skin condition. The creams generally are made from sulfur or Permethrin, both of which work well at killing scabies mites. Scabies cream is usually applied directly to the skin, all over the body. Treatment may also require antibiotics if a secondary skin infection occurs because of excessive scratching.

Tiny mites digging under a person’s skin cause scabies. The mites burrow under the skin, creating tunnels that can usually be seen with the naked eye. These tunnels look like black or silver lines on the skin and typically do not occur until a rash develops. The rash is very itchy, and many times a person will scratch so much that another skin infection will occur, resulting in the need for further treatment.

Most of the time, scabies cream is applied to the entire body for a certain number of hours; sometimes it must be reapplied for one to three days in a row, depending on what type of scabies cream is used. A second application is usually required the following week. The cream kills the mites that live under the skin. Sometimes, if the initial treatment does not work, another application may be needed. If used properly and no allergic reaction occurs to make the skin condition worse, scabies cream will usually get rid of the mites the first time.


Generally, doctors recommend Permethrin or sulfur, because these medicines are considered safe for humans. The medicines are also safe for children and pregnant or nursing women. Infants can also use scabies medicines but generally should be under the supervision of a doctor while being treated.

Symptoms of scabies usually do not appear until up to six weeks after a person comes into contact with scabies mites. A person who thinks he has scabies should see a doctor to have his symptoms properly diagnosed. At times, a doctor may need to scrape off some of the person’s skin so he can look at it under a microscope. This will allow him to see if there are any mites under the skin. If a doctor diagnoses a person with scabies, he will need to inform any people he has come into contact with, because scabies is spread through skin to skin contact.

Scabies cream can be purchased over the counter from pharmacies. The creams are also available through a prescription from a doctor. All instructions should be read and carefully followed before the cream is applied to ensure that the scabies cream works.


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Post 3

Some of the creams don't kill scabies mites but prevent new mites from hatching. Permethrin actually kills the mites, and natural scabies treatments usually prevent hatching. This is why it's a good idea to use both types of treatments at the same time.

For example, I used permethrin to kill the mites and diluted vinegar in between to keep eggs from hatching.

Post 2

@simrin-- I'm not totally sure but as far as I know, tea tree oil, sulfur and benzoyl peroxide (the stuff that's in acne spot treatments) have bacteria and fungi killing properties. So that's probably how they're effective against scabies.

The same applies to many other natural oils and minerals like coconut oil, lavender oil and borax. Creams that contain these ingredients can help kill mites or prevent a mite infection. You can use these as home remedies for scabies, but curing scabies might require application over many weeks.

Post 1

I know that permethrin works like a pesticide, that's how it kills scabies mites. But some people claim that they cured their scabies with things like acne spot treatment and tea tree oil cream. How do these work against scabies?

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