Lancet. 2006 May 27;367(9524):1767-74. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68772-2.


Scabies is a neglected parasitic disease that is a major public health problem in many resource-poor regions. It causes substantial morbidity from secondary infections and post-infective complications such as acute post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. Disease control requires treatment of the affected individual and all people they have been in contact with, but is often hampered by inappropriate or delayed diagnosis, poor treatment compliance, and improper use of topical compounds such as permethrin, lindane, or benzyl benzoate. In addition to concerns over toxicity with such compounds, parasite resistance seems to be increasing. Oral ivermectin is an alternative that has been used successfully in community control programmes. Plant derivatives such as turmeric, neem, and tea tree oil are also promising future treatments. The disease is strongly associated with poverty and overcrowding, and the associated stigma can ostracise affected individuals. Treatment of scabies in poor countries needs to integrate drug treatment programmes with efforts to improve the socioeconomic conditions and education programmes to reduce stigma. We expect the future to bring more sensitive and specific clinical and laboratory-based diagnostic methods, as well as new therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antiparasitic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antiparasitic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Contraindications
  • Crowding
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Molecular Biology
  • Prevalence
  • Sarcoptes scabiei / growth & development*
  • Sarcoptes scabiei / pathogenicity
  • Scabies* / drug therapy
  • Scabies* / etiology
  • Scabies* / physiopathology


  • Antiparasitic Agents