Lindane free scabies prevention and treatment

Purchasing for Pollution Prevention
Lindane-Free Scabies Prevention and Treatment
Scabies are caused by a parasite, sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis, also known as the itch mite. The disease is transmittedthrough direct contact with an infected person, or from contact with infested bedding or clothing. Scabies are mostcommon among children and people living in institutional settings or crowded conditions. Scabies infestations frequentlybreak out in nursing homes. Though scabies, once contracted, must be treated with a pesticidal lotion, their transmissioncan be prevented and controlled by following early detection and prevention procedures. Most facilities can use lesstoxic scabicide treatments in conjunction with prevention methods to successfully prevent widespread scabies infestations.
Why avoid lindane treatment?
How can scabies be prevented or limited with-
• Overuse of lindane can seriously affect the nervous out the use of lindane?
system, causing seizures or convulsions.1 Rigorous prevention and screening methods, combinedwith lindane-free prescription treatments, can effectively • FDA cautions that lindane products should only be control scabies outbreaks and treat sufferers.
used in cases where individuals are resistant to or cannottolerate other treatments, and that patients weighing Prevention
under 110 pounds may be at particular risk for neuro- • Scabies are transmitted through direct, prolonged skin contact, and through contact with the bedding or cloth-ing of a scabies-infested person. Preventive measures • EPA considers lindane a pollutant of concern in the are aimed at reducing or eliminating such contact.
Great Lakes (as well as in Lake Champlain,Chesapeake Bay, and other large water bodies) due • Confirmed scabies sufferers should be kept out of contact to its persistence in the environment, potential to with others until 24 hours after treatment with a scabicide.
bioaccumulate, and toxicity to humans and the • Health care workers should wear gloves when making contact with people suspected to have scabies.
• Lindane concentrations sufficient to produce negative • Prevent sharing of personal items such as clothing, ecosystem effects have been found in the Lake Erie basin,4 and levels exceeding water quality standards • Wash all potentially exposed linens and clothing in have been found in freshwater bodies in Ohio.5 The hot water (130° F or higher), and dry at high heat for US Geological Survey found lindane in 6% of the • Nonwashable blankets, cushions, and other articles • Lindane used to kill scabies and lice is normally can be placed in plastic bags for 7 days, dry cleaned, rinsed directly into the drain. This use has been or tumbled in a hot dryer for 20 minutes. banned in California because water treatment facilityoperators there determined that lindane lotions and • Sanitize the personal space of infested individuals. In cor- shampoos were the primary source of their excess lin- rectional facilities, terminal cleaning of cells is important for controlling scabies transmission to new occupants.
• Educate clients or institutional populations about pre- risks and environmental impacts of this pesticide.) Purchasing for Pollution Prevention Program Fact Sheet INFORM, Inc. September 2003 Screening and Proper Diagnosis
What lindane-free pesticides are available for
Transmission can be avoided through early detection.
scabies treatment?
• Scabies should be diagnosed by health care person- All scabies medications require a prescription. nel prior to any treatment. Avoid using scabies treat- • 5% permethrin lotion (Elimite) is considered the
ments unless the individual has a confirmed case of most effective treatment by numerous authors and scabies as determined by microscopic analysis of organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and the American Social HealthAssociation.11 • Allergic reactions, eczema, poison ivy, and other skin conditions that cause acute itching can be con- • Crotamiton (Eurax), a prescription treatment con-
taining a synthetic chloroformate salt, has a less • A health care provider should take a scraping of the successful rate of cure, though it can help lessen affected area with a scalpel and examine the material under a microscope for visible scabies mites. • Benzyl benzoate was for years the treatment of
• If a scabies infestation is diagnosed, all persons who choice for scabies, but recent trials indicate it has have been in close contact with the affected individual should be screened regularly to identify new scabies • Ivermectin (Stromectin) is a prescription antipara-
sitic drug taken orally. One study demonstrated Treatment
ivermectin to be as effective as lindane.13 However, Even when employing the best preventive measures, use for scabies treatment is off-label.14 there will be times when infestations will occur andwill require use of a scabicide. However, scabicides are What is the relative efficacy of lindane–free
not intended to repel mites, and their prophylactic use treatments?
exposes individuals to unnecessary pesticide risks. The results of studies of the comparative efficacy of • Treat only affected individuals and follow product various treatments have varied, and more research is dosing instructions strictly to avoid overexposure. needed. The Cochrane Database of Systematic • Apply a thin layer of lotion as directed.
Reviews has found permethrin to be more effectivethan crotamiton, and has found no difference in the • Leave lotion on only as long as directed — cure rates of crotamiton and lindane. However, a extending treatment intervals unnecessarily may review of comparisons of permethrin and lindane • Isolate the patient to the extent possible from unaf- fected persons until 24 hours after completion of EFFICACY RATES OF SELECTED STUDIES REVIEWED IN 200215
Active Ingredients
Efficacy Rate
• During and after treatment, make sure the patient has access to clean clothing and bedding.
• Continue to clean bedding and clothing with hot water and sanitize the living space until rescreening confirms that treatment was successful.
• Rescreen affected persons for continuing infestation after 7 days, two weeks, and one month to ensure • Do not re-treat unless new evidence of active sca- bies is found. Note: Itching and redness may con-tinue for some weeks after treatment; unless live scabies mites are detected, this does not indicate afailure of treatment.10 Purchasing for Pollution Prevention Program Fact Sheet INFORM, Inc. September 2003 What is the comparative cost of
lindane versus alternatives?
expensive than lindane-containingproducts. One alternative, crotamiton, than lindane. And permethrin, givenits higher rate of treatment success, may require less usage, thus reducingthe cost differential compared to lin- dane treatments. The table comparesthe retail price of the various treat-ments for scabies, according to * Price information is from two consumer websites: and Prices will be different for institutional purchasers.
Can alternatives successfully treat crusted
• Crotamitin can increase skin irritation19 and has, (Norwegian) scabies?
in rare cases, been associated with convulsions • Immune-compromised and elderly individuals are prone to a more resistant version of scabies knownas Norwegian, or crusted, scabies. • Ivermectin has not been fully evaluated for side effects, but these can include exacerbation of exist- • In this variant, mite tunnels are often almost com- pletely covered over with scabs, under which hun-dreds, or even thousands, of mites may be present,and lotions may not be able to penetrate scabs suffi- † All pesticides pose some risk to human health and the environ- ment, and users should carefully evaluate the risks and benefits ofany chemical treatment. For further information, see INFORM’s • One study reported success with a combination of oral ivermectin and topical benzyl benzoate.16 • Clinicians need to use their professional judgment to determine the safest, most effective treatment forcrusted scabies.
What risks are associated with lindane-free

Because lindane is a nervous system toxin that both
persists in the environment and concentrates in the
food chain, it is the least environmentally preferable
choice for treatment, but all scabies treatments involve
some level of risk.
• Permethrin has been associated with diarrhea and rash, and in rare cases, convulsions and death.17 • Benzyl benzoate has also been associated with rash and diarrhea, as well as aplastic anemia.18 Purchasing for Pollution Prevention Program Fact Sheet INFORM, Inc. September 2003 1 US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2002, Number 35, Supplement 2, “Toxicological Profile for Alpha-, Beta-, Gamma-, and Delta- Hexachlorocyclohexane,” 1999,
11 Centers for Disease Control, “Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines 2002,” 2 US Food and Drug Administration, “Lindane Shampoo and 8-2002TG.htm; American Social Health Association, Lindane Lotion: Questions and Answers,” 2003, “Information to Live By: Scabies,” 2001,; US Food and Drug Administration, “FDA Public HealthAdvisory: Safety of Topical Lindane Products for the 12 National Health Service (UK) Centre for Reviews and Treatment of Scabies and Lice,” Dissemination, “Treating head lice and scabies,” Effectiveness Matters, 1999, Volume 4, Number 1, 3 US EPA, Technology Transfer Network Air Toxics Website, “Lindane (Gamma-Hexachlorocyclohexane),” 13 Chouela, et al., “Equivalent Therapeutic Efficacy of Ivermectin
and Lindane in the Treatment of Human Scabies,” Archives ofDermatology, 1999, Volume 135, Number 6, 651-654.
4 US EPA Region 5 and Environment Canada, Lake Erie Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP) 2000, http://www.
14 For more information on ivermectin’s lack of FDA approval, see
5 US EPA Region 5, Pollutant Load Analysis to Assess Sources 15 Wendel, K., and A. Rompalo, “Scabies And Pediculosis Pubis: of Sediment and Water Column Toxicity in Little Beaver Creek, An Update Of Treatment Regimens And General Review,” Ohio, draft final report, March 2000, http://www.epa.state.
Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2002, Number 35, Supplement 2, 6 Kolpin, D. W., et al., “Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and Other Organic Wastewater Contaminants in U.S. Streams, 1999-2000: A National Reconnaissance,” Environmental Science and Technology, 2002, Volume 36, Number 6, 1202 -1211, 19 MedlinePlus Drug Information, “Crotamiton,” http://www.nlm.
7 Los Angeles County Sanitation District, “Lindane Reduction medlineplus/druginfo/uspdi/ 202170.html.
Project Underway,”
20 Wendel, K., and A. Rompalo, “Scabies And Pediculosis Pubis: 8 Kentucky Health Dept., “Guidelines for Scabies Prevention and An Update Of Treatment Regimens And General Review,” Control,” 2002, Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2002, Number 35, Supplement 2, %20Files/Epi-reports/Scabies-GUIDELINES.pdf.
21 MedlinePlus Drug Information, “Ivermectin,” http://www. 202311.html.
10 Wendel, K., and A. Rompalo, “Scabies And Pediculosis Pubis: An Update Of Treatment Regimens And General Review,” Purchasing for Pollution Prevention Program Fact Sheet INFORM, Inc. September 2003 INFORM is a national nonprofit organization that identifies practical ways of living and doing business that are 120 Wall Street, New York NY 10005-4001 Tel 212 361-2400 Fax 212-361-2412


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