What Is Crotamiton?

Melissa Barrett

Crotamiton is a chemical that is sometimes contained in creams and lotions used to treat scabies. The medication is useful in that it both kills adult mites and relieves the itch associated with the condition. In some situations, this drug may also be prescribed to treat itching from sources unrelated to scabies treatment.

Crotamiton is sometimes used to treat intense itching.
Crotamiton is sometimes used to treat intense itching.

Scabies infections are caused by microscopic, parasitic mites that burrow into the skin of their host. Redness and skin rashes are often reported in patients, but the most common symptom of an infection is severe itching. Contrary to common belief, the intense itching associated with scabies is not caused by the mite itself but rather an allergic reaction to its feces. Antipruitic medications, such as crotamiton, help to relieve the itching.

Individuals using crotamiton for scabies treatment are generally instructed to bathe and dry thoroughly. Then, lotion containing the chemical is applied liberally over the entire body from the neck down. Generally, a second treatment is applied a day after the first. Individuals are advised not to bathe between treatments or for 24 hours after the second treatment.

To prevent scabies recurrence, romantic partners and family members of the host should also be treated at the same time. After the first 24 hours of treatment, all bed linens and clothing should be washed in hot water to kill any mites. Some physicians recommend treating furniture and carpeting with commercial ovicidal sprays. Family pets, especially those that show symptoms of mange, may also require treatment.

Topically applied, crotamiton is relatively safe to humans. The few reported side effects, including itching and burning at the application site, are mild and short in duration. As with most medications, an allergic reaction to this drug is possible. Patients who experience shortness of breath or any sudden swelling, especially in or around the throat or mouth, are advised to seek medical treatment immediately.

The effects of crotamiton use during pregnancy have not been sufficiently studied. Therefore, use of this medication by pregnant woman is generally discouraged. There have also been no studies performed that specifically address the use of this medication in children or the elderly.

It should be noted that crotamiton is effective in treating, not curing, scabies. Many studies, including a 2006 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that the chemical did not kill all the mites in every stage of development. As such, this medication is generally only prescribed in scabies patients who are unable to tolerate more effective medications.

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