Isolation Precautions for Scabies and Lice

This information describes how isolation precautions are used to prevent the spread of scabies and lice while you are in the hospital.

What is scabies?

Scabies is a skin condition that causes very itchy skin and a pimple-like skin rash. It is caused by tiny mites that burrow into your skin.

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What is lice?

Lice are tiny insects that can be found on the head and body, including the pubic area. They survive by feeding on human blood.

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How are scabies and lice spread?

Scabies can be spread by direct skin-to skin-contact with someone who has scabies. Scabies can also be spread by sharing towels, bed sheets, and other personal belongings.

Lice can live on the scalp, eyelashes, and pubic area. Lice can be spread by close contact with someone who has lice or by contact with their clothing, personal items, or linens.

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How are scabies and lice treated?

Scabies and lice are treated with medication.

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What isolation precautions are taken in the hospital if I have scabies or lice?

  • If you are diagnosed with scabies or lice, you will be placed in a private room.
  • A sign will be posted on the door instructing all staff and visitors to take precautions.
  • All staff and visitors must clean their hands before going into and after leaving your room. They can use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • All staff and visitors who enter your room must wear a yellow gown and gloves.
  • If you leave your room for tests, you must wear a yellow gown and gloves or be covered with a clean sheet.
  • If you leave your room to walk around the unit, you must wear a yellow gown and gloves.
  • You will not be able to go to the following areas of the hospital:
    • Pantry on your unit
    • Recreation center on M15
    • Pediatric recreation areas on M9
    • Cafeteria
    • Main lobby
  • While following these isolation precautions, you can have art or massage therapy in your room.
  • After treatment, your doctor will tell you when these isolation precautions will be discontinued.
  • Your personal items and clothing will be placed in a sealed plastic bag and given to your family. They must be machine washed in hot water and placed in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes.
  • Any personal belongings that cannot be washed will be placed in a sealed plastic bag and given to your family. They must be kept in the sealed bag for 5 to 7 days.
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What precautions should I take at home if I have scabies or lice?

  • Avoid sharing personal items such as clothing, hats, combs, or hair accessories.
  • Machine wash all of your personal items and clothing in hot water and place them in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes.
  • If your personal items cannot be washed, place them in a sealed plastic bag for 5 to 7 days.
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