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What Is the Connection Between Sulfur and Scabies?

Medications with sulfur are often used to treat scabies.
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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 June 2014
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The main connection between sulfur and scabies is that sulfur and sulfur-containing medications are someof the the primary treatment methods for scabies. Other treatments are also available, but some of them have been found toxic to humans. Sulfur works by killing the mites which cause scabies symptoms, but it is generally considered safe for topical use by humans and animals. Infants are sometimes prescribed sulfur for scabies over other popular medications because it is less likely to cause dangerous side effects when used in small dosages.

Sulfur and scabies treatment are connected for both human and animal versions of the condition. Canine scabies is called mange, although it is caused by a different mite than the type which infects humans. For canine use, the sulfur cream should be rubbed on the skin and applied to the fur daily for up to one week, depending on the level of infestation. The cream can be washed off once every 24 hours, followed by another application.

Sulfur and scabies treatment options for humans work in much the same way. The cream is rubbed onto the skin in the infected areas and left for twenty-four hours. It is generally washed off at night and re-applied until the next evening. Sulfur has a pungent odor, so those using it may wish to remain at home as often as possible.

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The use of sulfur and scabies medications such as permathrin should not be applied together unless directed by a health care professional. Permathrin is usually the treatment of choice for scabies because it requires fewer doses. Sulfur is used less often due to the smell and because treatment can take up to one week. Some patients who are allergic to permathrin or may respond better to sulfur, as may young children.

Sulfur should be used in the lowest possible dosage for the treatment of scabies and other skin conditions. When treating a young child, a doctor should be notified before treatment begins. It is important not to use any drug or cream that is not recommended for use in humans. The drug lindane was once advised for scabies treatment, but has since been found to be too toxic for safe use. Therefore, this drug should be avoided.

Symptoms of scabies are redness and skin rash, itching, thin lines across the skin, and sores. Scratching may make skin lesions worse and may lead to infection. In severe cases, scars may remain on the skin once the sores have healed.

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Discuss this Article

fBoyle
Post 3

@ZipLine-- No, sulfur soap works too, it too comes in 10% potency. I used the soap as a scabies home treatment. It's easy to use and less smelly. I would lather up with it in the shower, apply it all over my body and wait like that for five to ten minutes before washing it off.

The cream is kind of messy and you have to leave it on and I don't like smelling like sulfur all day. My scabies symptoms disappeared in about two weeks.

I should warn however that sulfur is very drying for skin. So I recommend moisturizing with coconut oil (which also protects against scabies) afterward. Otherwise, you may end up getting dermatitis.

ZipLine
Post 2

@turkay1-- I think it's just as effective, but it takes a longer time to show its effect.

Permethrin treats scabies quickly because it's a pesticide. Even though doctors claim that permethrin is safe and non-toxic for humans, I don't believe it. You will have to apply sulfur more times and for several more weeks than permethrin, but at least it's totally safe.

I also think that sulfur cream (10%) is more effective than sulfur soap for scabies because it is more potent.

candyquilt
Post 1

Is sulfur soap or cream as effective as permethrin for scabies?

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