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This section contains answers to common questions about this topic. Questions have been suggested by health professionals, website feedback and requests via email.

Can I be treated for scabies while pregnant or breastfeeding?


Yes. However, you should always ask your GP or pharmacist for advice before you start treatment for scabies.


The insecticide used to treat scabies (permethrin 5%) isn’t harmful to pregnant women or young babies. If you have scabies and are breastfeeding, wash the insecticide off your nipples before you put your baby to your breast. Then, reapply the treatment to the area after you’ve finished feeding your baby.

Can I go to work if I have scabies?


You can return to work, or send your children back to school, as soon as you have completed your first treatment.


If you, or your children, have scabies you can go back to work or school after completing your first treatment because it will have killed all the live mites and you won’t be contagious. The second treatment for scabies is aimed at killing any new mites that may have hatched since your first treatment. This is usually applied a week after the first treatment.

What should I do if treatment doesn't work?


If you’ve been treated for scabies and your symptoms haven’t cleared up within six weeks, see your GP.


Scabies treatment might not work if you don’t follow the instructions properly. If you’ve been treated and your symptoms haven’t cleared up within six weeks, you should go back to see your GP. He or she may give you another insecticide treatment and some advice about how to apply it correctly. Everyone who lives in the same house as you, or who has had sexual contact with you, will need to be treated at the same time.

If your symptoms don’t improve despite repeat treatment, your GP may refer you to a dermatologist (a doctor who specialises in skin conditions). 

Should I wash my bed linen before or after completing scabies treatment?


You will need to machine wash all your bed clothes and linen at a hot temperature (50°C or above) on the day you start your treatment.


It’s important to wash your bed clothes and linen on the day you start treatment. Ideally, you should apply the treatment and then put clean clothes on. Then, place your recently worn clothes and bed linen in a hot wash (50°C or above). If you can't machine wash an item of clothing, keep it sealed in a plastic bag for 72 hours to keep any remaining mites contained until they die naturally. You don't need to fumigate any living areas to get rid of the mites.

For our main content on this topic, see Information.

For sources and links to further information, see Resources.

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  • This information was published by Bupa's Health Information Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition. The content is intended only for general information and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional. For more details on how we produce our content and its sources, visit the about our health information page.

    Approved by Plain English Campaign The Information Standard memberHON Code


  • Produced by Krysta Munford, Bupa Health Information Team, March 2012.

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