What Are the Different Types of Medication for Scabies?

B. Chisholm

Medication for scabies treatment is usually topical. In severe cases, oral treatment may be prescribed. The most important part of scabies treatment is to ensure that all contacts are treated simultaneously and that the household is cleaned at the same time, to eradicate the scabies mites.

A bottle of calamine lotion, which can help with scabies.
A bottle of calamine lotion, which can help with scabies.

Scabies is a highly contagious skin condition caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, which manifests with severe itching. It may show as tiny burrows in tracks along the skin all over the body, often in the skin folds of the fingers, armpits, elbows and along the waistline. It is spread by skin-to-skin contact and is endemic in populous areas where people live in crowded conditions.

With the correct medication for scabies and a strict adherence to how it is given, the condition is easily treatable. All contacts in a household should be treated at the same time. Various topical preparations are available, including ones containing benzyl benzoate, permethrin, malathion and crotamiton. The choice of the best medication for scabies will be made on a case-by-case basis depending on numerous factors, including age and severity of the scabies.

Each of the medications for scabies is available in different strengths and topical forms, and by different trade names depending on the country of origin and manufacturer. The specific dosage instructions should be closely followed to ensure therapeutic effect and to prevent toxicity. Medication for scabies should not be applied directly after a hot bath, but rather to cool skin, to prevent rapid absorption and therefore removal of the medication from the site of the scabies.

Medication for scabies, depending on which one is used, may require to be left on for an extended period. The recommended period of treatment should not be exceeded. Re-treatment may be necessary in some cases. Should adverse effects occur or the infection not clear up, medical attention should be sought.

When medication for scabies is being used, any mites in the household should be eradicated simultaneously. Clothes and bedding should be washed at high heat. Any toys or unwashables should be placed in a plastic bag for a couple of hours to kill the mites.

The itching experienced with scabies is often worse at night and may continue for a while, even after treatment has been completed. Symptomatic relief may be obtained using an antihistamine. Patients should be aware that these may cause drowsiness, so driving or operating heavy machinery should be avoided. Calamine lotion may also be useful in relieving itching.

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