Scabies and Lice
Scabies is an irritating, itchy disease of the skin caused by the itch mite Sarcoptes scabiei. Pubic lice are tiny, crab-shaped insects which live in coarse areas of hair, typically the pubic area. Head lice are small parasites which live in the hair and feed on the blood of the scalp.
- Common conditions
- Caused by scabies and lice
- All treatable with topical applicants
Conditions such as scabies, head lice and pubic lice can spread easily and can cause irritating and sometimes painful symptoms. You can buy scabies, pubic lice and head lice treatment from our online pharmacy. Given necessary symptoms, no prescription is required.
2 treatment(s) for Scabies and Lice
Scabies, also known as the ‘itch mite,’ is both a common and contagious condition of the skin. Tiny mites called Sarcoptes scabiei burrow into the tissue. Using their sharp mouthparts and front legs, the female mite tunnels into the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin), feeding on the tissue and fluid that oozes out as they do so. Once deep enough, in a warm place, they implant their eggs.
- also known as itch mites / sarcoptes scabiei
- roughly 0.5mm big when grown
- often not visible to the naked eye
- mouth and front legs are sharp/dagger-shaped
Scabies are spread through frequent skin-to-skin contact with another person. Sometimes they can be spread through sexual contact but are not characterised as a sexually transmitted infection. They can, but rarely are, spread through shared clothing, towels and bedding.
Symptoms are more noticeable and will include an intense burning or itching, more frequently observed at nighttime. They often leave red, sore rashes. They may leave small, silvery lines with a tiny dot at one end - this is often indicative of where they have burrowed and laid their eggs. Symptoms can, however, take up to eight weeks to show.
Symptoms can appear anywhere on the body, often causing a red, itchy rash. It typically does not affect the head and neck - though it can more often in small children and the elderly. These rashes are most commonly observed in between the fingers.
While it may not sound very pleasant, scabies is usually harmless and easily treated. ‘It is however very contagious and can spread easily from person to person. Therefore, it’s advisable that all inhabitants of a household are treated at the same time. This ensures complete eradication.
Treatment will usually take the form of a topical cream or lotion. It must be applied to the whole body and can be reapplied after 14 days if needed. Anyone you may have come into close contact with (sexual partners, for example) in the last eight weeks should be informed.
Head lice and nits, known specifically as Pediculus humanus capitis, are tiny, parasitic insects that live in the hair of humans. They survive by feeding on the blood of the scalp. Mature female adult lice lay their eggs near the hair follicle where there is an abundance of food. Contrary to common belief, they can not jump or fly.
Head lice are:
- also known as nits / pediculus humanus capitis
- roughly 2-3mm big when grown
- can be visible to the naked eye
- long body shape
- typically grey/white tan colour
Head lice are spread through human contact, and are often more commonly found in children. They are highly infectious. Their eggs are white and can often be mistaken for dandruff. They tend to be found more toward the back of the head and near the ears, but can sometimes be found nearer the forehead and eyebrows.
Head lice often cause itchiness which can become more severe depending on the extent and size of the infestation. Head lice can also be unpleasant and may impact on overall mental wellbeing, due to the stigmas associated.
The only way to ‘diagnose’ head lice is to brush your hair with a fine-toothed comb, preferably when the hair is wet, in order to uproot and detect live lice. You can continue to practice this ‘wet-combing’ technique as a method of complete removal.
Other treatments may take the form of medicinal lotions, sprays or creams - sometimes these contain an active ingredient called permethrin. As opposed to a removal method like wet-combing, these treatments work to kill lice. They may need to be repeated a fortnight later. Again, head lice are highly infectious so any people living in one house should be treated at the same time.
Pubic lice, or ‘crabs’, are tiny parasitic insects that live in areas of human hair, primarily in pubic or genital areas. They do not live on the scalp. Pubic lice (known biologically as Pthirus pubis) feed almost exclusively on blood. Pubic lice lay their eggs (called nits) in firmly placed sacs which are usually pale-brown in colour. When emptied, they are more visibly a white colour. Pubic lice can't jump.
Pubic lice are:
- also known as crabs / pthirus pubis
- roughly 1.1-2mm when grown
- may be visible to the naked eye when close
- crab-shaped body
- yellow-grey or tan-red
- front legs resemble pincers
Pubic lice are spread through close body-body contact, most commonly that of sexual nature. Because of this, pubic lice are classified as a sexually transmitted infection. It is recommended that if you come into contact with pubic lice via sexual contact, you should seek testing for other STIs also. Pubic lice tend to be found primarily in genital areas, but can also be found in other coarse, hairy areas like the armpits, legs, chest, abdomen, back and facial hair.
It can be a number of weeks before symptoms of pubic lice develop. This is largely because the infestation has not yet grown big enough to be noticeable. Symptoms are consistent between men and women, and may include intense itching in affected areas, more typically at night, inflammation, irritation or rash, finding a black powder-like substance in the underwear, blue or red spots on the skin (indicative of lice bites).
There is no link between poor personal hygiene and catching pubic lice. They are parasites that move around based solely on the intention of finding good sources of food. They can be spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex. Barrier methods like condoms do not protect against pubic lice.
If you fear you may be suffering with any of these symptoms, you should seek an appointment with your GP or visit your nearest GUM clinic. This will allow for a proper diagnosis to be made. If you visit a GUM clinic, you can also be tested at the same time for other STIs.
Pubic lice can be treated at home, usually treatments will take the form of creams, lotions or shampoos. Some treatments only need to be applied to the main area of infection, but sometimes you will be advised to apply to the entire body. You may also need to re-apply treatment 14 days later.
These types of infestations are varied and can present themselves in different ways. Symptoms can range from asymptomatic (not noticeable at all) to severe.
For head lice, you may want to try ‘wet-combing’ first (which is a natural, non-medicinal method of eradicating the infestation). Our head lice treatment comes with a free fine-toothed comb.
For scabies, pubic lice and head lice - treatments can take the form of topical applicators such as creams, lotions or, in some cases, shampoos. Some will contain pyrethroids as their active ingredients. These treatments are often available over the counter without a prescription.
How do they work?
Pyrethroids, also known as insecticides, are primarily organic compounds which work by targeting the nervous systems of insects - including scabie mites, pubic lice and head lice. Pyrethroids are highly effective, when used correctly, at killing and removing these lice infestations.
Depending on the lice/mites causing your symptoms, you may be instructed to apply pyrethroids solely to the areas of infection or you may be advised to apply to the whole body. If you live with other people, it is often recommended that everybody is treated at the same time. Sometimes treatment should be repeated 14 days after initial use.
Pyrethroid treatments we can offer include Lyclear 5% crème rinse, Lyclear 5% dermal cream and Permethrin 5% cream.
Always follow the instructions you have been given by your prescriber. The patient information leaflet should also be read thoroughly prior to use.
What are the side effects?
All medications can come with side effects. Please ensure you read the patient information leaflet prior to use. Topical treatments, like lyclear and permethrin, can cause localised symptoms like itching, burning or rash. For more specific information on side effects, please refer to our individual product pages.
Can I take them with other medications?
Corticosteroids (a class of steroids) should not be used topically to treat skin conditions such as eczema while pyrethroid treatments are being used. Doing so can make infestations more severe. Otherwise, these treatments are not thought to greatly interact with other medications. Again, more specific advice can be found on our individual product pages.
What’s the difference between the medications?
All are topical creams which contain permethrin as their main active ingredient. Lyclear Crème Rinse is prescribed for head-lice, whereas Lyclear Dermal Cream and generic Permethrin cream are prescribed for pubic lice and scabies.
Lyclear Dermal Cream and generic Permethrin are very similar, both contain the same quantity of active ingredient, both are topical creams and both are offered at 30g.
All three contain 5% Permethrin, which is classified as an insecticide. Insecticides kill lice and mites. Lyclear Crème Rinse can be offered in a singular quantity of 59ml, or in packs of two (118ml).
Should I take Lyclear 5% crème rinse, Lyclear 5% dermal cream and Permethrin 5% cream?
If you’re suffering with head lice, you should visit the Lyclear 5% crème rinse product page.
If you’re suffering with scabies or pubic lice, then you can visit either the Lyclear 5% Dermal Cream or generic Permethrin product pages as both contain the same active ingredient - Permethrin. Referring to the individual product pages may help you to decide between each.
Are there side effects?
Side effects of Lyclear Crème Rinse 5% include redness, rash or skin irritation. Paraesthesia, which is defined as sensations on the skin such as tingling, pricking or burning may also occur, though the frequency is unknown.
Common side effects of Lyclear Dermal 5% Cream and generic Permethrin 5% include itching, reddening of the skin, paraesthesia. Some symptoms can persist for up to four weeks after the conclusion of treatment.
For a more detailed summary of side effects, you can visit the individual product pages for each treatment. For the most-part, side effects are consistent across each product.
Is it right for me?
If you’re suffering with any of the symptoms described, then we’re here to help. For the treatment of head lice, we can offer Lyclear Crème Rinse 5% - we also offer a treatment pack containing a fine-toothed comb which can aid the treatment process.
For scabies and pubic lice, we offer both Lyclear Dermal Cream and generic permethrin cream. These options are similar, but for a more detailed summary of each you can refer to our individual product pages.
Fill out our clinical questionnaire to have your symptoms evaluated by a qualified member of our medical team. Pending their approval, your order will be dispensed at our UK pharmacy, shipped using a secure courier and can be with you the following day.
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