Health A-Z

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Your doctor can treat scabies with various topical (applied to the skin) medications, including permethrin (Nix, Elimite), lindane (Kwell, Scabene), crotamiton (Eurax), and, in infants and other sensitive people, sulfur in petroleum. The choice of a specific medication is influenced by a person's age, pregnancy, the presence of coexisting skin conditions and medical history. Scabies medications usually are applied from neck to toe after bathing, allowed to remain on the skin for 8 to 14 hours, and then washed off. In some cases, a second application is necessary, depending on the type of medication used and your symptoms. Ivermectin (Stromectol) is an oral medication that also treats scabies effectively. It is given as a single oral dose followed by a repeat dose 2 weeks later.

To help control itching, simple topical agents such as calamine lotion can be applied. If the itching keeps you awake, diphenhydramine (Benadryl) taken by mouth may be advised.

All sex partners, family members and close contacts of someone with scabies must be treated for the infestation, even if they have no symptoms.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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