Scabies is treated with a special medicine applied directly to the skin from the neck down; young children and infants may also require treatment on the face and scalp, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). The most common scabies medication is 5 percent permethrin cream. This cream is safe for pregnant women and babies as young as a month old.
Other medications that can be used for the treatment of scabies include 25 percent benzyl benzoate lotion, 10 percent sulfur ointment, 10 percent crotamiton cream or 1 percent lindane lotion. Generally, the medication is applied at bedtime, and then washed off upon wakening. Depending on the medication, a repeat dose may be required 1 week later to kill off any newly hatched scabies.
Everyone in the household should be treated if one person is infected with scabies. People who were in close contact with the infected person should also be treated, even if they do not have signs of scabies. When scabies occurs in an institutional setting, such as a nursing home, everyone who has been around the infected person may require treatment, reports the AAD.
In addition to medicines to kill scabies, other medicines may be required for other symptoms. Antihistamines may be needed to control itching and promote sleeping, while antibiotics may be necessary to control any infection caused by scabies. Steroid creams can ease itch, swelling and redness from scabies.
A scabies infestation is commonly diagnosed by identifying its telltale rash, increasing itchiness and a history of worsening symptoms at night, according to MedicineNet. However, the most definitive diagnosis is made by examining scrapings of skin under a microscope for the presence of mites, eggs or pellets.
According to MedicineNet, a scabies rash is comprised of small, red bumps and blisters that are typically on certain areas of the body, such as between the fingers, around the nipples, and on the wrists, elbows, knees, axillary folds and buttocks. The tiny bumps may or may not contain blood crusts. Scabies are transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact and are sometimes thought of as a sexually transmitted infection. While not impossible, they are typically not transmitted through normal, casual contact, such as shaking hands. However, in households, they can be transmitted from one family member to others over time.