Permethrin Cream 5% for Scabies
How It Works
Prescription-strength permethrin 5% kills the scabies mite. The medicine will come with instructions, and your doctor will also give you a treatment schedule. The National Institutes of Health recommends the following use of 5% permethrin cream for scabies:
National Institutes of Health information available online: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a698037.html.
Why It Is Used
Permethrin cream (Elimite) is one of the first medicines doctors prescribe to cure a scabies infestation.1 It is the treatment of choice for children and for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. Permethrin 5% cream is considered safe for infants as young as 2 months old.2
Permethrin should be used with caution on people who are allergic to pyrethrin products or chrysanthemums.
How Well It Works
Research has shown permethrin to be more effective than lindane, without the risk of rare yet severe side effects.3 A single application of permethrin cream (Elimite) cures most scabies infestations. Itching usually decreases significantly within 24 hours, though some itching is common for up to several weeks after treatment.
People who have crusted (Norwegian) scabies (rare) may need to apply the medicine several times. It may be necessary to follow the initial permethrin treatment with other scabies medicines (such as ivermectin, lindane, or sulfur) to cure this form of scabies.
Permethrin is considered very safe. Possible side effects include:
If these side effects persist, call your doctor.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Itching commonly continues for up to several weeks after treatment with a scabies medicine. This doesn't mean that the scabies mites are still alive. It means that the body is still reacting to the mites and their feces.
Unless your doctor recommends it, do not apply permethrin scabies medicine (Elimite) more than once. Overuse of scabies medicines can irritate the skin and may increase the risk of side effects.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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