Background: The conventional antiscabietics have poor compliance. Ivermectin, an oral antiparasitic drug, has been shown to be an effective scabicide and could be a useful substitute.
Objective: This study compares the efficacy of oral ivermectin with topical permethrin cream in the treatment of scabies.
Methods: Eighty-five consecutive patients were randomized into 2 groups. Forty patients and their family contacts received 200 microg/kg body weight of ivermectin, and another 45 patients and their family contacts received a single overnight topical application of 5% permethrin cream. Patients were followed up at intervals of 1, 2, 4, and 8 weeks.
Results: A single dose of ivermectin provided a cure rate of 70%, which increased to 95% with 2 doses at a 2-week interval. A single application of permethrin was effective in 97.8% of patients. One (2.2%) patient responded to 2 applications at a 2-week interval. Permethrin-treated patients recovered earlier.
Conclusion: A single application of permethrin is superior to a single dose of ivermectin. Two doses of ivermectin is as effective as a single application of permethrin. The temporal dissociation in clinical response suggests that ivermectin may not be effective against all the stages in the life cycle of the parasite.