Interventions for treating scabies

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Topical permethrin appears to be the most effective treatment for scabies. Ivermectin appears to be an effective oral treatment, but in many countries it is not licensed for this indication.

Scabies is an intensely itchy parasitic infection of the skin caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. The female mite burrows into the skin to lay eggs which then hatch out and multiply. The infection can spread from person to person via direct skin contact, including sexual contact. It is a common public health problem with an estimated global prevalence of 300 million cases, but the level of infection varies between countries and communities. This review evaluates topical and systemic drugs for treating scabies, including both herbal and traditional medicines. The authors identified 22 small trials involving 2676 people, with 19 of the trials taking place in resource‐poor countries. No trials of herbal or traditional medicines were identified for inclusion. Permethrin appeared to be the most effective topical treatment for scabies, and ivermectin appeared to be an effective oral treatment. However, ivermectin is unlicensed for this indication in many countries. Adverse events such as rash, vomiting, and abdominal pain were reported, but the trials were too small to properly assess serious but rare potential adverse effects.

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