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Permethrin 5% is a topical cream used to treat conditions such as scabies and pubic lice. Permethrin is a type of insecticide, it belongs to a family of medicines known as pyrethroids. Pyrethroids kill mites and small insects. 

Order permethrin from our UK pharmacy. Take our medical questionnaire to have your symptoms assessed by one of our GMC-doctors or GPhC-prescribers. Pending approval, we’ll ship your order using a third party courier.

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This content was reviewed by a clinician on

04 May 2021
dr daniel

Dr Daniel Atkinson

(GP Clinical Lead - GMC No. 4624794) 04 May 2021
Product information

Permethrin is a generic topical cream used for the treatment of scabies and pubic lice. It is in a group of medicines known as pyrethroids. These medicines work by targeting the nervous systems of certain mites and insects which kills them off. Both scabies and pubic lice are classified as parasitic ‘infestations’ of the body. Symptoms can range from completely unnoticeable to severe. Common symptoms include itching, burning or rash. 

Permethrin cream for scabies

Scabies are tiny mites not visible to the naked human eye. They burrow themselves into the skin crevices, feeding on the skin’s tissue and moisture as they do so. Once deep enough in a warmly conditioned environment, they lay their eggs (larvae). Scabies are sometimes referred to as the ‘itch mite’, and are known biologically as Sarcoptes scabiei. 

They are transferred from person to person through skin to skin contact, and sometimes through sexual activity, but not always (because of this, it isn’t classified as a sexually transmitted infection). Rarely, they are spread through sharing clothes, bedsheets and towels. 

Symptoms may take up to around eight weeks weeks to develop. Common symptoms include burning or itching. Sometimes their ‘burrow’ trails are visible on the skin. This will often look like a small, thin white line with a red dot at the end. This can be indicative of where they have implanted their eggs. 

This can happen anywhere on the body, but scabies typically prefer dark, warm areas and crevices. This can include the armpits and in between the webbing of the fingers.

Scabies can be irritating, itchy and unpleasant and, if severe, can affect your day to

day activities. Scabies are highly contagious and easily spread. 

Permethrin cream for pubic lice

Similarly to scabies, pubic lice are tiny parasites. Pubic lice are, however, slightly bigger and may be visible to the naked eye if in close contact. They’re often colloquially referred to as crabs. They are spread mainly through sexual contact, so are considered sexually transmitted infections (but this is not always the case). Condoms do not protect against pubic lice. 

Much like scabies, you may not notice any symptoms of pubic lice until the infestation becomes widespread. They target coarse areas of hair - like the genital area and armpits (but have been observed anywhere on the body excluding the head). Pubic lice feed on the blood.

Symptoms are the same regardless of a person’s gender, and commonly include intense itching, burning (more at nighttime), swelling, inflamed skin, redness, soreness, finding a black ‘powder’ in under garments and blue/red spots on the skin (bites). Pubic lice do not differentiate between those with poor and good hygiene. They can affect anyone. 

If you fear you have pubic lice, it is highly recommended that you visit a GUM clinic to seek testing for other STIs. Pubic lice can usually be treated easily with a topical cream, lotion or shampoo. 

How can I buy Permethrin?

Permethrin cream can be used to treat both scabies and pubic lice. It is typically applied to the whole body. 

You can order permethrin using our online pharmacy. Our medical team will analyse your symptoms and, pending their approval, your treatment will be shipped in discreet packaging.

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Page last reviewed:  04/05/2021

You should apply Permethrin exactly how it has been prescribed. If in doubt, you can see further information as to the directions in the patient information leaflet. 

  1. External use only, avoid contact with the mouth, eyes or nose. 
  2. Pierce the film covering the tube using the reverse side of the cap. 
  3. Ensure the skin is clean prior to use. 
  4. Do not apply to broken or damaged skin. 
  5. Apply to all areas of the skin, given these areas are clear and clean. 
  6. Like sunscreen, Permethrin will rub completely into the skin. 
  7. If the cream is visible, you have likely applied too much. 
  8. One 30g tube is usually enough to treat the whole body. Occasionally two 30g tubes are required dependent on the size of the person.


  1. Apply to the whole body including the neck, palms and soles of the feet. You do not need to apply permethrin to your face or scalp if you do not have symptoms do not affect these areas. 
  2. Leave on the skin for a total of eight hours. 
  3. Re-apply the treatment to the hands following each time you wash. 
  4. Permethrin should be washed off using soap and water after no more than 12 hours. 

If you think you have used too much Permethrin, wash it from the skin using warm water and soap. If there are any indications of irritation, or a rash develops, speak with your doctor or prescriber. 

Because these types of conditions are highly contagious and easily spread, we recommend everyone living in the same household is treated - and that this is done at the same time. 

Page last reviewed:  04/05/2021
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:
Side effects

All medications can cause side effects. While some are unlikely, it is important to recognise what a side effect may look like should you be affected. If you’re concerned about side effects, you can talk to a doctor or prescriber for more information. Alternatively, you can read the patient information leaflet for a more detailed summary of side effects. 

Side effects to permethrin include, burning, itching and stinging, though this usually fades after time. Often the symptoms of scabies can last for up to 4 weeks after treatment. If they don’t clear up straight away, this doesn’t always indicate that treatment has failed. However, if there is no sign of your skin improving or if new symptoms develop, another application should be made 7 days after the first treatment.

If you encounter any side effects, including ones not listed here, you must consult with your doctor or a medical expert. 


Taking it with other medications

Because Permethrin is for external use, it is not known to interact with any medicines that work in the body. If you use any other kind of externally applied medicine or topical cream, lotion or shampoo - you must make your doctor or prescriber aware. Specifically, do not use Permethrin while using a type of eczema treatment called corticosteroids (steroids).

Other conditions to look out for

You should not use this treatment if you are allergic to any of its ingredients or excipients. 

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

You must make your doctor or prescriber aware if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to conceive a child. 

Pubic lice can spread from a mother to their newborn baby, so it's vital you seek immediate treatment if you fear you have pubic lice. 

Page last reviewed:  04/05/2021
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Can I still drink alcohol? 

Yes, this treatment is not thought to interact in any way with alcohol. 

Will I still be able to drive?

Yes, permethrin cream is not thought to impede on the ability to drive.

Can I take the medicine while pregnant? 

You must make your doctor or prescriber aware if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. 

How should I store it?

Keep away from children. Do not store above 25 degrees and be careful not to freeze. 

Am I allergic to anything in the medicine? 

The active ingredient is Permethrin. It also contains cetylstearyl alcohol, white soft

paraffin, macrogol cetostearyl ether, isopropylmyristate, benzyl alcohol and purified water. 

If you are allergic to any of the ingredients listed, please see your doctor.

Is it available over the counter? 

Yes, this treatment can be acquired without a prescription. Though your pharmacist will have to ask you some medical questions to ensure it is suitable. 

Is it right for me?

If you’re suffering with the symptoms of scabies or pubic lice, you can take our questionnaire and your symptoms will be assessed by a qualified UK medical professional. If approved, we’ll process and dispense your order in our UK pharmacy.

Page last reviewed:  04/05/2021 is rated 4.9 out of 5 by 3131 customers on TrustPilot!
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