Treating scabies on the scalp cannot be done without medical attention. There are no over-the-counter medications or natural remedies that have been proved to be effective. A doctor usually will prescribe a lotion containing permethrin, lindane or sulfur to treat scabies. The lotion is applied to the entire body, left on overnight and then washed off.
Scabies is a mite infection of the skin. After a person has been infected, the mites burrow into the skin, lay eggs and produce irritating substances. This skin condition causes severe itching that worsens at night, and red bumps or small blisters might appear. The skin might also appear scaly or crusty in severe scabies infections. All types of scabies, including scabies on the scalp, is very contagious and can be easily transmitted between people.
Most mite infections begin in the body's folds. Scabies does not usually affect the scalp or face. Infants, elderly people and people with immune system deficiencies are most likely to experience scabies on the scalp.
Permethrin lotion is the most widely used for treating scabies on the scalp. It has a low toxicity rating and is safe to use on infants who are 2 months old or older. Crotamiton and sulfur are also approved for children this young. Lindane cannot be used on young children, pregnant women or people who have a weakened immune system.
Regardless of which lotion is used, the patient should thoroughly wash his or her body and hair before applying the medication. Normally, the lotion is applied to the entire body from the neck down. If the scalp is infected, it is necessary to apply the lotion there. The lotion should cover the entire body but should not enter the eyes or any body cavity. The lotion must be left on overnight, or eight full hours, and a second treatment might be required seven to ten days later.
Scalp itching might continue even after the mites have been killed. The irritating substance produced by the mites can continue to cause an allergic reaction. A doctor might prescribe an antihistamine cream or steroid pill to reduce discomfort. This will soothe the itching, but it will not cure scabies. If large bumps remain for a long time, a doctor might inject them with steroids or apply coal tar.
To ensure that scabies on the scalp has been successfully treated, clothes worn most be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer two days before the scabies treatment begins. The same should be done with used bedding and towels. This will kill any mites or eggs that are on the items. Furniture, walls and floors do not require extra cleaning.