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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Permethrin Cream 5% for Scabies
Prescription-strength permethrin 5%
kills the scabies mite. The medicine will come with instructions, and your
doctor will also give you a treatment schedule. The National Institutes of
Health recommends the following use of 5% permethrin cream for scabies:
National Institutes of Health information available online:
Permethrin cream (Elimite) is one of
the first medicines doctors prescribe to cure a scabies infestation.1 It is the treatment of choice for children and for women who
are pregnant or breast-feeding. Permethrin 5% cream is considered safe for
infants as young as 2 months old.2
Permethrin should be used with caution on people who are allergic to
pyrethrin products or chrysanthemums.
Research has shown permethrin to be effective.3 A
single application of permethrin cream (Elimite) cures most scabies
infestations. Itching usually decreases significantly within 24 hours, though
some itching is common for up to several weeks after treatment.
People who have
crusted (Norwegian) scabies (rare) may need to apply
the medicine several times. It may be necessary to follow the initial
permethrin treatment with other scabies medicines (such as ivermectin or sulfur) to cure this form of scabies.
Permethrin is considered very safe.
Possible side effects include:
If these side effects persist, call your doctor.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is
not available in all systems.)
Itching commonly continues for up
to several weeks after treatment with a scabies medicine. This doesn't mean
that the scabies mites are still alive. It means that the body is still
reacting to the mites and their feces.
Unless your doctor
recommends it, do not apply permethrin scabies medicine (Elimite) more than
once. Overuse of scabies medicines can irritate the skin and may increase the
risk of side effects.
Nonprescription permethrin 1% is used to treat
lice but is not strong enough to cure
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Diaz JH (2010). Scabies. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 3633–3636. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Scabies. In LK Pickering et al., eds., Red Book: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, 28th ed., pp. 589–591. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Chosidow O (2006). Scabies. New England Journal of Medicine, 354(16): 1718–1727.
March 14, 2011
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology
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