Scabies is an itchy, highly contagious skin disease that’s caused by an infestation by the itch mite Sarcoptes scabiei. If you suspect that anyone in your family has been infested by the parasite, you should immediately start the treatment before it gets worse. As, it is very contagious and will infect other people as well.
Symptoms of infestation include:
- Intense itching, especially at night
- Clustered rashes
- Scales or Blisters
- Sore skin caused by scratching
- Track-like burrows in the skin.
Who to treat?
- Everybody who has signs of scabies needs treatment.
- People coming in close contact with the infected person also should receive treatment.
- Anybody who has had substantial contact with items used by infested person needs to be treated.
- The infection may spread while changing their used bed sheets or wearing their clothes.
The most common medicine for treating scabies is 5-percent permethrin cream that is usually applied on the infected area and left on overnight. Getting rid of scabies also requires washing all used clothes and bedding in hot water, and thoroughly drying them on high heat in a machine dryer. Its treatment must begin as soon as possible or it will spread to others, even risk of re-infection is usually quite high.
- Lindane lotion. This medication is recommended only for people who can't tolerate other approved treatments, or for whom other treatments didn't work. But it isn't safe for children younger than age 2 years, women who are pregnant or nursing, the elderly, or people weighing less than 110 pounds.
- Crotamiton (Eurax). This medication is available as a cream or a lotion. It's applied once a day for two days. This medication isn't recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or nursing.
- Ivermectin (Stromectol). It is oral medication for people with altered immune systems, for people who have crusted scabies, or for people who don't respond to the prescription lotions and creams. Ivermectin isn't recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing, or for children who weigh less than 33 pounds.
It is recommended that family members and others who had any close contact with the infested person are treated at the same time, even if they don’t show symptoms. This is because the chances of re-infection may increase if treatment is not done properly. Now, the question is at what time scabies medicines can be used? Here are some of the useful instructions for applying medicines.
- Medicine should be applied to cool, dry skin and not after a hot bath. This is because applying after a hot bath body absorption increases and drug may vanish from the infected area.
- Apply it to the whole body from the chin and ears downwards, paying particular attention to the areas between the fingers and toes and under the nails and areas where there are skin folds.
- People with a weak immune system, the very young and elderly people should apply the treatment to the whole body including the face and scalp.
- Permethrin cream needs to be left on for eight to 12 hours.
- Malathion needs to be left on for 24 hours (in case you wash your hands during this time, you can reapply the lotion).
- Even follow-up treatment is recommended after seven days to ensure the treatment is successful and avoid re-infestation.
Note: If you are breastfeeding, the cream or lotion will need to be thoroughly washed off before feeds and reapplied if necessary. You should consult your physician or pharmacist about using Malathion on children under six months and before using Permethrin on children aged below two years.