5 Scabies treatments

Getting started

In the USA it can be hard to get treatment for scabies.

Some doctors don't recognize it, and some won't prescribe enough medication to cure it. When they do agree to treat you, they usually prescribe 5% permethrin cream. At a minimum one should have two applictions of permethrin cream a week apart. But when I went to the doctor I could only get one tube and was told to check back two weeks later! Plus it was $80 a tube!

So I had two choices: make my own or try other treatments. I wound up trying many cures.

The five treatments are listed below.

I made my own 5% permethrin lotion, which was a lot cheaper. But that is an off-label use so I can't recommend anyone else doing what I did. You have to decide for yourself. Here is my description of what how I made my own 5% permethrin lotion and my experience with using it.

5% permethrin cream is a prescription medicine, but sometimes you can find it online. The folks who advertise of often get taken down after a while. You can order 5% permethrin cream on eBay by clicking here. I am always a bit leery of prescription medicine sold on-line…there's no guarantee if it is genuine. If that link is no longer working, please send me an email to let me know so I can update it (a link to email me is at the bottom of every page).

In the past most people who have scabies were cured with two treatments a week apart. But lately permethrin resistant scabies have been appearing. If you have tried permethrin and still have scabies, this could be why it wasn't cured.

The itching can persist even after the mites are dead, so you might not know if you are cured for a few weeks. The itching can even get a bit worse before it gets better.

There are at least five proven treatments for scabies. I want you to know what they are, where to get them, how to apply them and what results to expect.

The 5 treatments are:
5% permethrin cream (described on this page)
Ivermectin
Benzemul (benzyl benzoate)
Eurax (crotamiton)
and 10% sulfur lotion

But if you have a stubborn case or have had scabies for a long time, it is best to do two different treatments at once. A mite killing lotion on your skin and also oral ivermectin.

Stubborn cases

The standard treatment for a mild case of scabies in the USA is 5% permethrin cream. Two applications of a skin cream or lotion cream a week apart cures most mild scabies cases.

What is a "mild case"? It's a recent case. It's where you just noticed the itch. It takes about 6 weeks for the itch to show up after the scabies mites move in, so it isn't really a "new" infestation, but the itch is new for you.

No matter what you do need to dry your laundry (clothes, sheets, pillow cases, etc.) on high heat until they are completely dry (at least 30 minutes). The hot, dry heat dries out and kills the scabies mites and their eggs. Hot water DOES NOT kill the mites and their eggs. Please read this explanation about how to treat your laundry and furniture.

What is a "stubborn case"? It's a mature case. The itch has been around for over a month. Maybe you tried some treatment and it "didn't work." It has probably spread to several locations. You might have infected sores (they have clear liquid or pus in them, there is red skin around them, they don't seem to heal).

The main difference in the treatment is how long it lasts. A mild case may be treated over 8 or 9 days. A stubborn case may need the full 29 day treatment.

Click here to see a timeline of schedules for treating mild and stubborn cases.

Also, when I had a stubborn case, I did permethrin cream AND oral ivermectin each week. Plus, one week I did 10% sulfur cream for 3 days and another week I did Eurax lotion (10% crotamiton) on the "off days" (the days I wasn't applying the permethrin cream). The sulfur and Eurax lotions gave me "something to do" when I itched — they helped stop the itch and let me get some much needed sleep.

I also went in and got a prescription for antibiotics. It turns out the scabies mites produce a protein that lowers your body's ability to fight off certain bacteria. That means the bacteria can spread throughout your body. Read more information about scabies and bacterial infections here.

Also, it's important you know there are several treatments for scabies. There are some permethrin resistant scabies mites so if one treatment doesn't work, there is still hope. Look in the sidebar to the right for more treatments.

If you can get enough tubes of 5% permethrin cream, and you take oral ivermectin, you will probably be cured. But as time goes by, the more I see that in the USA it can be impossible to get prescriptions for permethrin or ivermectin. So a sufferer may wind up having to take control, learn all they can and treat themselves.

I used prescription permethrin cream but I could only get a prescripton for a small amount. So I made my own 5% permethrin lotion and used it. I even made a YouTube video showing what I did. But then the permethrin manufacturer threatened to sue me and sic the FDA on me so I took down the video. I put my description of how I made my own 5% permethrin lotion on my mange page because farmers and such use it to treat their animals. Dogs and humans carry different species of scabies mites, but the cure is the same (but humans get a much lower concentration of permethrin or sulfur than dogs or cows!).

The three treatments you can get without a prescription are benzyl benzoate lotion (Benzemul), 10% sulfur lotion and Eurax lotion (and cream). Eurax is very soothing and eases itching but Eurax alone isn't going to cure scabies. Eurax helps kill the mites some, but I think most folks will need to also do either sulfur lotion or Benzemul lotion.

Benzemul and Eurax can be ordered from an Australian pharmacy and take about 10 days to arrive. I have ordered Benzemul from that on-line pharmacy myself and it appears to be genuine (I have no conection to them and get no commission). Australia has real pharmaceutical controls and laws — I would not order products from India or China (even if they are on eBay or Amazon I don't trust them). Even pharmacies that claim to be in Canada are usually bogus. Please go to my individual pages on Benzyl Benzoate and Eurax for the latest links on where to get them.

You can order sulfur lotion on Amazon and have it in tomorrow to get started treating yourself.

Also I took ivermectin horse paste because my doctor would only prescribe 2 doses and I felt I needed seven doses (over 29 days). It is only approved for treatment of animals such as horses, sheep and cattle. I experimented and treated myself as if I were an animal. You have to decide for yourself what you do for you. Click here for a YouTube video on how to measure doses of ivermectin horse paste.

Read the Healthy Skin Program booklet to see how they used both a topical skin lotions (such as permethrin, sulfur or Benzemul) AND oral ivermectin to treat stubborn cases. On page 14 of that booklet they recommend: "Permethrin 5% cream OR benzyl benzoate 25% lotion (+/- tea tree oil 5%) plus oral ivermectin to kill scabies mites."

There is almost no scientific proof tea tree oil works to cure scabies. I wouldn't bother using it.

Other studies (here and here) have shown that 10% sulfur lotion can cures scabies, and you don't need a prescription.