While permethrin cream is a standard treatment for scabies, its use in children is not the same as in adults. This is because an adult immune system works differently to fight off scabies mites as compared to children. The immune systems of children, especially babies, has not fully developed, therefore, they are more vulnerable to this itchy skin condition. In case of babies, scabies rashes may even appear on their face, but it is not seen in adults.
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Moreover, children and babies are more sensitive to hard treatments, which also include the use of permethrin cream. This cream contains high amounts of insecticides to kill scabies mites, but chemicals in large amounts may be damaging to the tender skin of kids.
Here’s how children and babies can be treated without permethrin
Treating babies (under 2 months old)
Permethrin is not recommended for use on children less than 2 months of age. Therefore, alternative treatment is given to these newborns. Eurax lotion or cream (containing 10% crotamiton) is a better alternative for scabies treatment in babies under two months old. This lotion/cream is very soothing for the skin and reduces itching while killing scabies mites.
Infants less than 2 months of age can also be treated with sulfur 5% cream for three days consistently. The cream needs to be washed off after 12-24 hours of its application. Sulphur is known to dry out the skin, so it’s better to use Eurax as it even keeps the skin moisturized.
Nu-Stock is another treatment option that contains sulfur. It consists of 73% sulfur, 22% mineral oil (baby oil) and 2% pine oil. But this needs to be diluted with baby lotion to 5% concentration before application. This is non-greasy ointment that smells of sulfur.
Here are three ways you can dilute it for 5% sulfur lotion
You need 1 part Nu-Stock ointment and 14 parts baby lotion to create 5% sulfur lotion.
Another way is to take 1 tablespoon Nu-Stock sulfur ointment and mix it with 7/8 cup baby lotion. It will form about a cup of 5% sulfur lotion that can be applied to a baby’s skin.
The third method is to take 1 tablespoon Nu-Stock sulfur ointment and mix with 3/4 cup baby lotion. This will form about 3/4 cup 6% sulfur lotion.
You need to form any of these recipes in a clean container and store in a clean bottle to use it conveniently later on.
Treating children (over 2 months old)
Children older than 2 months can be treated with 5% permethrin cream. This creams must be applied any time of the day or left on overnight (8–12 hours) and washed off in the morning. You need to cover your entire skin but avoid eye and mouth areas.
After following the first treatment, the infested person need to go for the second treatment of 5% permethrin after one to two weeks. This is done because, after the first treatment, any surviving eggs will hatch. They take 10-14 days for those hatchlings and to mature to lay new eggs. In the first treatment, only mature mites are killed, not the eggs. If you do another treatment a week later (on day 8), this will help you in killing those newly hatched mites too. Even a third treatment may be required if the mites are still present even after the first two treatments. However, it is very difficult to find out whether the treatment has worked or not - because the signs treatment is also similar to scabies.
Keep in constant contact with your doctor and do as directed. You’ll surely be able to eradicate scabies from your child’s body, provided you follow up the treatment properly.