How Does Permethrin Cream Work?

We have explained here how permethrin cream works along with its directions of use.

How Does Permethrin Cream Work?


Permethrin cream is a common topical medication used for the treatment of scabies. It works by killing mites and eggs, thereby improving the skin condition. Permethrin cream is also termed as scabicide as it works as “insecticide”. Permethrin was discovered in 1973 and is dubbed by WHO as one of the essential medicines.

The cream is available both as an OTC drug and physician’s prescription. It is also considered as the basic treatment for scabies and is available as white or off-white cream with vanishing cream base. Here we will discuss about the use of permethrin cream to treat scabies.

Who Can Use Permethrin Cream?

The cream is recommended for adults and children age above 2 months. Generally, the cream is applied to the entire body from head to the soles, covering nails and underneath them, armpits, and skin folds. It is washed off taking shower or bath after 8-14 hours.

What is a Composition of Permethrin Cream?

Each standard size of topical permethrin cream includes 5% of permethrin with other secondary ingredients like carbomer 934P,isopropyl myristate, lanolin alcohols,butylatedhydroxytoluene, coconut oil, glycerin, glyceryl stearate, light mineral oil, polyoxyethylenecetyl ethers, purified water, and sodium hydroxide. The cream may contain Formaldehyde 1 mg as a preservative.

How Does Permethrin Cream Work?

Permethrin cream removes mites and their eggs from the skin. It attacks their nervous system, causing muscle spasms, paralysis and death, once the mites come into the contact with the cream.

How to Use Permethrin Cream?

  • Read the guidelines given on the pack or as instructed by your physician.
  • Take bath or wash your skin before application. Later pat it dry.
  • Use the cream from the head to the soles of the feet. Make sure to cover your fingers, underarms, and skin folds during application.

  • Wear the cream for 8-14 hours.
  • Wash off the cream by taking a bath or shower
  • Itching may occur after application, which is normal for some days.


(NOTE: Call your doctor if you experience intense burning, sensation or redness on the skin after applying the cream.)

In most cases, a single application is enough to cure most scabies infestations. Generally, itching is decreased within 24 hours, though some itching may persist for up to some days after treatment.

Patients with crusted or Norwegian scabies are required to apply the cream several times. In this case, a physician may prescribe other medications like ivermectin, lindance or sulfur to be used with permethrin cream.

If permethrin gets in your eyes, flush them with water right away. If your eyes are still irritated after flushing with water, call your doctor or get medical help right away.

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