Scabies is a skin condition caused by infestation with microscopic parasite mites. Although it can be acquired by anyone, scabies has the highest incidence in very young children and the elderly. Scabies is highly contagious and it can cause serious endemics in overcrowded orphanages, nursing homes and asylums. Due to their limited mobility, infants and elderly people are the most exposed to acquiring scabies during outbreaks. On the premises of a weak immune system, scabies can lead to serious bacterial or fungal infections, causing serious complications.
Most of the symptoms of scabies occur due to allergic reactions to the mites’ secretions and eggs. Once they find a human host, female mites burrow within the epidermis and lay their eggs, causing pruritic rashes, skin inflammation and severe itch. Later symptoms include pustules, blisters and linear burrows.
People with compromised immune systems experience more intense symptoms of scabies and they present a higher risk of developing complications. When suffering from scabies, people with underlying immuno-deficitary conditions are very exposed to developing serious skin disorders such as impetigo. In addition to the common symptoms of scabies, people with weak immune systems can develop prominent skin lesions, nodules and crust.
Common topical creams for external use are usually ineffective in overcoming severe forms of scabies. While commonly used medications such as permethrin and lindane can eradicate the mite infestation in most people affected by scabies, patients with HIV and the elderly don’t respond well to such forms of treatment. Administered to immuno-compromised patients, lindane can sometimes cause serious neurotoxic reactions. Thus, dermatologists usually recommend oral medications to people who suffer from severe forms of scabies and people with hypersensitivity to topical creams.
One of the most effective oral drugs used in the treatment of scabies has proved to be ivermectin. This strong oral medication can effectively overcome severe forms of infestation with mites such as crusted scabies. Although ivermectin has various side-effects, this type of oral medication is better tolerated than lindane or other topical medications for external use. In present, ivermectin is a reliable alternative to topical creams in the treatment for scabies. Ivermectin is cheaper and more effective than other oral medications as well. Thanks to its strong curative properties, ivermectin can eradicate the infestation with scabies mites in a shorter period of treatment, thus minimizing eventual side-effects. Furthermore, ivermectin can also diminish the chances of a second infestation.
In present, ivermectin is still an experimental drug and it hasn’t yet been approved for extended use. However, research results indicate that this type of oral medication has very few side-effects and it can be safely used in the treatment of scabies.