In humans scabies is caused by tiny itch mites - Sarcoptes scabiei. The mites burrow under the skin and lay eggs causing blisters and red rashes on the skin. The skin can become intensely itchy when person develops scabies. Commonly, scabies is treated with topical insecticides or oral pills. Two of the most commonly used include Permethrin and Ivermectin.
Scabies can generally be a silent infection. A person may see thin, fine lines on the skin especially between fingers, toes, inside elbows, around the waist, armpits and even in the lower buttocks, but it may not be considered scabies. One only comes to know that they have developed scabies when intense itching develops in these rashes which only get worse at bedtime.
In addition to being scary for the person who has developed infection, scabies is a contagious skin disease, which is why it becomes scary for all people of the family. Scabies can spread to other people directly through skin contact, or can spread through sharing clothes, bedding, and other things. It is therefore recommended that people in close proximity of the infected individual should also undergo treatment along with the infected person.
Lindane has been one of the most preferred therapies for scabies. But recently, World Health Organization finding has revealed that lindane could lead to cancer, a reason the use of lindane as anti-scabies treatment is being avoided by countries worldwide.
Ivermectin and permethrin have been introduced as near equally effective alternative treatments for scabies.
Ivermectin is prescription medicine in pill form. Ideal for patients that don’t like topical medicated creams and lotions, lvermectin is also used to treat other roundworm infections too. Oral consumption of Ivermectin has been proven to be effective in treatment of scabies. Doctors prescribe lvermectin to scabies patients who have failed or cannot tolerate topical medications as treatment for scabies.
Permethrin is a cream based insecticide that works by killing scabies mites that feed on human body. Permethrin is a medication for use only on the skin – it is to be applied as soon as the doctor prescribes.
Permethrin cream should be applied right from head to underside of the feet. It should be applied between fingers, toes, skin folds and even under the nails. The cream should be massaged into the skin, as directed by the physician. The cream should be washed off thoroughly after 8-10 hours.
Recently in their study, students and professors at Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran, compared efficacy of oral Ivermectin and topical application cream Permethrin in the treatment of scabies. According to their study published on the Journal of Dermatology, Permethrin has slightly hire cure rate and patients treated with topical treatment showed quicker signs of recovery.
The study suggests:
- Permethrin is slightly more effective than oral Ivermectin in treatment of scabies.
- The cure rate of oral pill Ivermectin is increased by almost 100 percent in patients when they are treated with Permethrin.
- A single dose of Ivermectin may not be as effective since the medication does not act against all organisms in the life cycle. Ivermectin acts only the adult mites.
- However, treatment is better with Permethrin since cream based medication kills both the adult mites and their eggs. Ivermectin and permethrin are both considered equally helpful in treatment of scabies, but both should be taken with doctor’s prescription.