Scabies is caused by a parasite Sarcoptes scabies. It is so tiny that it can be viewed only with the help of a microscope. It causes itchy skin called scabies. The earliest symptom of scabies is itching. However, itching is a common problem with most skin diseases. Therefore, before treating this symptom it is advisable to confirm if the symptom has been caused by scabies. Using off-label medicines should hence be avoided. Your doctor may examine you thoroughly to rule out scabies, before prescribing a medicine for itching.
The commonest way of treating scabies is by using permethrin cream and Malathion lotion. Permethrin cream is usually the first choice of medication for treating scabies. However, when permethrin does not give expected results, Malathion cream is prescribed. The cream and the lotion contain insecticides to combat the mites. It is important to know that people surrounding the victim and the victim of scabies should be treated at the same time. This negates any potential for re-infection. All the members of your household, close contacts, and people with intimate relationships need to be treated.
Certain care and precautions need to be administered to facilitate early recovery while treating scabies. The treatment should be applied on cool and dry skin to maximize the absorption of the medicine on the infected site. The medicine should be applied to all parts of the body beginning with the ears up to the tip of the toe. Rarely accessed sites like the gap between the fingers, toe and fingernails, and other skin folds should not be neglected while treating. The direction of treatment should always be from top to bottom. It is advisable to apply the medicine to the whole body including the face and scalp for people with a weak immune system. Permethrin needs to be left for 8-12 hours while Malathion needs to be left for 24 hours. If washing on any of the treated parts needs to be done, then reapplication of the cream or lotion is necessary. If the diseased is breastfeeding, then cream or lotion needs to be washed off before feeding. Consultation with the doctor is necessary when treating children below two years of age. Follow-up with the doctor is necessary after a week to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.
On the same day of commencement of treatment, one should wash all the clothes including bed linen or towels in the warm water of 50 deg C. It is known that these mites cannot survive without a human host. So, if washing is not possible, then place the clothes in a plastic bag for 72 hours. It is not essential to fumigate pets, furniture, or carpets. When identified with scabies, any close physical contact with the affected person should be avoided until the first application of the cream or lotion.
The immune system reacts with the dead mites and their waste products which can result in itching. Mild steroid creams work well to mitigate the itchy sensation that might exist even after the cure of scabies. Oral antihistamines also help to control itching.
Complementary therapies are not available for treating scabies.