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Can I go to work if I have scabies?

If you have been diagnosed with scabies, you may need to take some time off work while you receive treatment. However, in many cases it may be possible to continue working if precautions are taken to avoid spreading the infestation.

Quick Answers

– You should inform your employer that you have scabies and discuss options for continuing to work safely.

– Avoid close physical contact with coworkers and customers/clients until treatment is complete.

– Practice good hand hygiene and keep your workspace disinfected.

– Treatment for scabies usually requires missing 1-2 days of work at most. You are no longer contagious after the first treatment.

Should You Go to Work with Scabies?

Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by microscopic mites that burrow into the skin and lay eggs. It leads to intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. Scabies spreads quickly through direct skin contact and via contaminated objects like clothing, towels, and bedding.

If diagnosed with scabies, the first step is to begin treatment as soon as possible. The most common prescription treatments are topical creams and lotions containing permethrin or ivermectin. They are applied over the entire body and may need to be reapplied after 1-2 weeks to kill any newly hatched mites.

Most people only need to take 1-2 days off from work while beginning the initial treatment. You are no longer contagious after the first full course of treatment. However, itching can persist for 2-4 weeks even after mites are killed.

Precautions for Working with Scabies

While you may not need to miss much work, precautions should be taken to avoid spreading scabies to coworkers and customers:

– Inform your employer and avoid close contact with others until treatment is complete. Don’t shake hands or engage in other physical contact.

– Practice good hand hygiene by washing hands frequently with soap and warm water.

– Avoid sharing items like phones, keyboards, tools, and PPE. Disinfect any shared equipment.

– Clean your workspace and other high touch surfaces regularly with disinfectant.

– Put creams and lotions on at night so they have time to absorb before work. Cover any visible rashes.

– Place clothing worn at work into a sealed plastic bag to be laundered. Shower after work.

– Continue treating clothes, towels, and bedding by washing in hot water and drying on high heat.

When to Stay Home from Work

You may need to take more time off from work in certain situations, including:

– If your rash is severe and you have painful skin cracks and sores. Working could worsen the condition or increase risk of infection.

– If you have complications like skin infections that require oral medication or other interventions.

– If you work closely with high-risk populations like the elderly, children, or immunocompromised individuals. The infestation could be harmful if transmitted.

– If you work in healthcare, childcare, food service, or other fields with close physical contact or shared equipment. There is high potential for transmission.

– If your employer requires you to stay home until all symptoms are completely resolved.

In these scenarios, it is best to take at least 2-4 days off from the time treatment begins. Make sure lesions are healing and itching is manageable before returning. Inform your employer so colleagues can be alerted of potential exposure.


Scabies often does not require staying home from work for more than a couple of days while beginning treatment. However, precautions must be taken not to spread the infestation. Inform your employer, avoid close contact with others, disinfect your environment, and continue treatment at home. If your symptoms are severe or your job involves close physical interactions, more time off may be necessary. Being proactive about treatment and limiting transmission will allow you to safely return to your job soon.