Scabies is a contagious skin disease caused by the mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei. This mite is very small and is usually only visible with a microscope. It is a human parasite (and also infects some other animals) and buries under the skin where it causes an allergic response. The most common symptoms are an intense itching and rash caused by the burrowing mite. In rare cases, such as in those with a compromised immune system, the mite is able to breed rapidly and this causes a scaly rash with thick crusts of skin. The disease is usually transmitted to others via skin-to-skin contact and symptoms do not usually occur until four to six weeks. There are about 300 million cases of scabies in the world each year. Let’s find out how this disease is treated.
How is scabies treated?
The most common treatment for scabies is permethrin, which is a synthetic chemical used as an insect repellent and insecticide. It is made into a cream for treating scabies and is applied from the neck to the feet and is left on the skin for eight to fourteen hours when it can be washed off. A single treatment is usually enough, but in more severe cases another dose can be used seven to fourteen days after the initial treatment. Permethrin is safe for humans, but is dangerous to fish and cats. It may cause a slight tingling or irritation to the skin.
Another common treatment is ivermectin, which is an oral antiparasitic medication that usually cures the condition with a single dose. It can also be made into a cream that is also effective against this disease. Other treatments less commonly used are lindane, benzyl benzoate, crotamiton, malathion and sulfur solutions. Crotamiton and sulfur solutions are the treatment of choice for children because of safety concerns.
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