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How do I Treat Scabies Rash?

By Greer Hed
Updated Feb 18, 2024
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Scabies, also known as sarcoptic mange or the seven-year itch, is a contagious infection of the skin caused by parasitic mites. The infection is typified by extremely itchy skin and a red rash, and can be diagnosed by careful examination of the skin that reveals the mites and the burrows they make in the skin. Scabies rash is usually easily treated using prescription medications that kill off the mites. The itching caused by scabies rash can be soothed with home remedies or with prescription antihistamines. It is also important to eliminate the mites and their eggs from the home to prevent reinfection.

Once a dermatologist determines that a patient has Sarcoptes scabiei, the mites that cause scabies rash, he will usually prescribe a medicated lotion, cream, or shampoo that contains a scabicide that rapidly kills the mites. Permethrin is a commonly prescribed medicated cream that kills the mites and is very safe to use. It is usually administered in two applications that are separated by about a week.

Another medication called lindane is sometimes prescribed to treat scabies rash. It comes in the form of a cream, lotion, or shampoo. Like permethrin, lindane is applied twice, with the applications separated by about a week. Unlike permethrin, however, lindane is not safe to use if the patient is very young, or if the patient is pregnant or nursing. A third medication called crotamiton may be prescribed for babies with scabies rash, as it contains no chemicals and is therefore harmless to infants.

There is also a more severe form of scabies called crusted scabies that typically only affects elderly people and people whose immune systems are compromised. This type of scabies is usually treated using a medication called ivermectin, which is taken orally. Ivermectin may also be prescribed in cases where a patient has not responded to the commonly prescribed topical medications.

The itching caused by scabies rash is quite intense and can continue to irritate a patient long after the mites causing the rash have been eradicated. Itching can be relieved somewhat by soaking in a tub of cool water or by using calamine lotion, a common over-the-counter anti-itching lotion that also helps to prevent further infection of the itchy area. Sometimes doctors will also prescribe an antihistamine to reduce itching.

While medications are effective at killing mites found on an infected person, the mites and their eggs must also be eliminated from the home to prevent reinfection. Clothing and bedding should be washed in very hot water to kill any mites that might be living therein. Mites also frequently lay their eggs in the carpet or on upholstered furniture, so carpets and upholstery should be vacuumed thoroughly.

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Discussion Comments
By fBoyle — On Mar 08, 2014

@serenesurface-- Great advice. I also want to emphasize a point already made by the article. Even though scabies lotions and shampoos work as they should, it takes a while for all of the mites to be gone from the skin. Many people complain after scabies treatments that they still have an itchy skin rash. Unfortunately, it takes time for these symptoms to go away, even though the mites are technically dead. It can take up to six weeks for this process to be complete so patience is necessary.

By serenesurface — On Mar 07, 2014

@ysmina-- Some people use sulphur products for scabies but it's not a very potent treatment so it might or might not work. I think you're better off with a more common prescription scabies treatment like benzyl benzoate or permethrin.

If you use the prescription scabies treatment correctly, it should work. Remember to apply the treatment all over the body and make sure to keep it on the skin for as long as necessary. The next day, you need to wash all clothes, towels and bedding in very hot water to prevent re-infection. If there are personal items you can't wash, you can always freeze them which kills the mites just as hot water does.

By ysmina — On Mar 07, 2014

What about sulphur? Is sulphur a good treatment option for a scabies skin rash?

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