Scabies is caused by a microscopic mite, a tiny animal with a round body and eight legs. The female mite burrows into human skin, laying eggs that cause a local allergic reaction. The reaction causes red, itchy, sometimes blistered or crusted pathways just below the outermost layer of skin. The disease is highly contagious, although prolonged touching, such as sexual contact or family life, is usually necessary, as opposed to short physical contact.
Scabies Treatment and Remedies
- Cold compresses or a cool bath can soothe away symptoms.
- Over the counter antihistamines can be effective at lowering the allergic reaction.
- Calamine lotion can provide over the counter relief of itching and redness.
- Permethrin cream (5%) is prescribed for adults and children 2 years of age and older and is considered safe for pregnant women. It is spread all over the skin, where it kills adult mites and their eggs in 8 to 14 hours. A second treatment should be applied one week later. All household contacts of the patient should be treated at the same time. Skin should be entirely healed in four weeks.
- Stromectol (ivermectin) is taken in pill form, 200 micrograms/kilogram of body weight. Two doses 8 to 15 days apart must be given, because ivermectin does not kill scabies eggs.
- Ivermectin cream may also be used to treat scabies. Two treatments should be given two weeks apart for complete healing by four weeks.
- Eurax or Crotan (crotamiton) cream or lotion may be applied once a day for two days. It is generally not as effective as permethrin, and not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, children, or adults over 65.
How to Prevent Reinfestation with Scabies
After treatment is started it is important to prevent reinfestation by washing all clothes, towels, and bedding in hot water and then drying them in a tumble dryer at the hottest temperature. Items that cannot be washed should be kept away from skin contact for at least 72 hours.
Did you know? QuickMD can diagnose and treat scabies infections from the convenience of your home, and provide you with a prescription for permethrin online (or any other anti-scabies medication).