What Are Scabies?
Scabies are tiny mites that cannot be seen by the human eye. These mites burrow within the skin where they lay their eggs. In a few weeks, the eggs hatch and scabies move over the surface of the skin causing an extremely itchy allergic reaction rash. Scabies can easily spread to other people by direct contact, or contact with infected towels, clothing or sheets. People are often infected at schools, childcare centers, and nursing homes.
The earliest and most common symptom is itching, especially at night. Tiny red bumps or pimples may appear, developing into more crusty or scaly areas as the condition progresses. Scabies can be diagnosed by a dermatologist by a thorough head-to-toe examination and by looking at a sample of an infected area under a microscope. When the condition is discovered, treatment is available, including topical medication and guidance on how to treat your clothing and personal items to rid them of mites.
Pyrethrin is a prescribed lotion combined or synergized with piperonyl butoxide. The chemicals act to kill scabies. Pyrethrin also has some effect on the nits or eggs of scabies. Synergized pyrethrin has no lasting effect meaning that none of the drug remains on the hair following treatment.
Permethrin is a treatment used for scabies. Permethrin 1% (Nix) is available over the counter, and permethrin 5% (Elimite) is available by prescription by one of our dermatologists. Permethrin is a cream rinse that is designed to leave a residue after rinsing that kills lice, so reapplication is usually not needed.
Ivermectin is an oral antiparasitic drug given as a single dose that has been shown to effectively treat resistant infestations. This is usually prescribed to treat scabies when the person does not respond to topical treatments.