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Small mites, called Sarcoptes scabiei, can burrow under the skin and cause an itchy rash-like skin problem commonly referred to as scabies. The condition requires prompt medical diagnosis and treatment because it can spread easily between people. Doctors prescribe several different medications to kill scabies, and there are things you can do at home to control and help treat the infection as well. Most treatments to kill scabies involve topical products, such as creams, gels or lotions, that you must apply to the affected areas as often as once a day.
Prescription topical products designed to kill scabies mites are called scabicides, and there are several formulations available. Permethrin creams are among the most commonly prescribed because they are safe for babies, children and adults, including pregnant and nursing women. The cream must be applied to any affected areas two times, with each application a week apart.
Lindane is another medication that contains chemicals that kill scabies mites. This medication is not prescribed for people who have compromised immune systems because of another illness or organ problems, for children under the age of 2 or for women who are pregnant or nursing. It is often prescribed for individuals who have scabies infections on the scalp because it comes in a shampoo form in addition to lotion and cream forms. Like permethrin, lindane medications are applied twice with a week between each treatment.
Crotamiton creams are the gentlest scabies treatment because they do not contain harsh chemicals. These creams are often prescribed for babies because they are less likely to irritate sensitive skin. Creams with crotamiton must be applied daily for three to five days in order to clear most scabies infections. Ivermectin is an oral medication that can be used to treat scabies infestations that do not respond to topical treatments or for people who have lowered immune systems.
The only way to effectively kill scabies is with medications that typically are available only by prescription. Though home remedies and treatments might help reduce your symptoms, they will not clear up the infection by themselves. Make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as you suspect that you have scabies. Other skin conditions, such as allergic rashes and eczema, can mimic scabies symptoms, so it is important to get a proper diagnosis before beginning treatment. Your doctor might suggest treatment for your family members and others with whom you have been in close contact recently, even if they are not showing signs of scabies.
Killing scabies mites in your home is an important step to prevent reinfection. After you've been diagnosed with scabies, wash all clothes, bedding and towels that you have used within the past 72 hours in hot water, and dry them on a high heat setting. Vacuum carpet, rugs and upholstery in your home and vehicle daily, and use a disinfectant cleaning solution on hard surfaces and floors until the end of your treatment. If possible, steam clean your upholstery and seal your mattress in a plastic liner to prevent re-infestation.
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