Scabies: molecular perspectives and therapeutic implications in the face of emerging drug resistance

Future Microbiol. 2008 Feb;3(1):57-66. doi: 10.2217/17460913.3.1.57.


Limited effective treatments, coupled with recent observations of emerging drug resistance to oral ivermectin and 5% permethrin, raise concerns regarding the future control of scabies, especially in severe cases and in endemic areas where repeated community treatment programs are in place. There is consequently an urgent need to define molecular mechanisms of drug resistance in scabies mites and to develop and assess alternative therapeutic options, such as tea tree oil, in the event of increasing treatment failure. Molecular studies on scabies mites have, until recently, been restricted; however, recent advances are providing new insights into scabies mite biology and genetic mechanisms underlying drug resistance. These may assist in overcoming many of the current difficulties in monitoring treatment efficacy and allow the development of more sensitive tools for monitoring emerging resistance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Resistance
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / therapeutic use
  • Ivermectin / therapeutic use*
  • Permethrin / therapeutic use*
  • Sarcoptes scabiei / drug effects
  • Scabies / diagnosis
  • Scabies / drug therapy*
  • Tea Tree Oil / therapeutic use


  • Insecticides
  • Permethrin
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Ivermectin