What is scabies?
Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by an infestation by the
itch mite Sarcoptes scabiei. Mites are small eight-legged
parasites (in contrast to insects, which have six legs). They are
tiny, just 1/3 millimeter long, and burrow into the skin to
produce intense itching, which tends to be worse at night. The
mites that cause scabies are not visible with the naked eye but
can be seen with a magnifying glass or microscope.
you get scabies?
Scabies mites are very sensitive to their environment. They can
only live off of a host body for 24-36 hours under most
conditions. Transmission of the mites involves close
person-to-person contact of the skin-to-skin variety. It is hard,
if not impossible, to catch scabies by shaking hands, hanging your
coat next to someone who has it, or even sharing bedclothes that
had mites in them the night before. Sexual physical contact,
however, can transmit the disease. In fact, sexual contact is the
most common form of transmission among sexually active young
However, other forms of physical contact, such as mothers hugging
their children, are sufficient to spread the mites. Over time,
close friends and relatives can contract it this way, too. School
settings typically do not provide the level of prolonged personal
contact necessary for transmission of the mites.
the treatment for a scabies infestation?
Curing scabies is rather easy with the administration of
prescription scabicide drugs. There are no approved
over-the-counter preparations that have been proved to be
effective in eliminating scabies. The following steps should be
included in the treatment of scabies:
1. Apply a mite-killer like permethrin (Elimite). These creams are
applied from the neck down, left on overnight, then washed off.
This application is usually repeated in seven days. Permethrin is
approved for use in people 2 months of age and older.
2. An alternative treatment is 1 ounce of a 1% lotion or 30 grams
of cream of lindane, applied from the neck down and washed off
after approximately eight hours. Since lindane can cause seizures
when it is absorbed through the skin, it should not be used if
skin is significantly irritated or wet, such as with extensive
skin disease, rash, or after a bath. As an additional precaution,
lindane should not be used in pregnant or nursing women, the
elderly, people with skin sores at the site of the application,
children younger than 2 years of age, or people who weigh less
than 110 pounds. Lindane is not a first-line treatment and is only
recommended if patients cannot tolerate other therapies or if
other therapies have not been effective.
3.Ivermectin, an oral medication, is an
antiparasitic medication that has also been shown to be an
effective scabicide, although it is not FDA-approved for this use.
The CDC recommends taking this drug at a dosage of 200 micrograms
per kilogram body weight as a single dose, followed by a repeat
dose two weeks later. Although taking a drug by mouth is more
convenient than application of the cream, ivermectin has a greater
risk of toxic side effects than permethrin and has not been shown
to be superior to permethrin in eradicating scabies. It is
typically used only when topical medications have failed or when
the patient cannot tolerate them.
4.Crotamiton lotion 10% and cream 10% (Eurax, Crotan) is a another
drug that has been approved for the treatment of scabies in
adults, but it is not approved for use in children. However,
treatment failures have been documented with the use of crotamiton.
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