August 25, 2008 5:13 AM   Subscribe

My housemate has scabies, and I (at least yet) do not. I have a vacation scheduled in a week that will have me staying in a condo with 6 other people. My doctor doesn't want to treat me unless I start to itch because "it's unpleasant," but I really don't want to infest my fellow travelers... What to do?

She first started getting the rash about a week-and-a-half ago. I was out of town all last week, and she had started treatment (cream) and house cleaning/washing, while I was gone.

We don't have a lot of physical contact, don't share a bedroom, and I don't spend a lot of time in the common rooms (like the sofa that she sleeps on three hours a day), but we do share a bathroom. There is another roommate in the picture who does share a bed with her, and hasn't received treatment, so we're not completely in the clear for the house-- though my contact with him is similarly limited.

My doctor is under the opinion (and probably, rightly so) that I'm at a pretty low risk... but with the incubation period (I've read 4-6 weeks), even if it's 10%, I'd hate to take the risk of infesting anyone that I'm traveling with.

Am I being overly concerned/paranoid, or should I push harder to be allowed to cover my body in cream for 14 hours (or is there another treatment I should push for)?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
It looks like some doctors are prescribing oral doses of ivermectin for scabies, but it's an off label use for the drug. I'm guessing if your doctor isn't willing to prescribe standard treatment, he may be even more reluctant to prescribe something off-label, but it would at least make him find a better excuse than it's "not pleasant."
posted by thejanna at 6:28 AM on August 25, 2008

According to Yahoo Health, the side effects for the cream are really minor. I'd ask your doctor about side effects, and also your roommate--was it unpleasant for her?
posted by Deathalicious at 6:31 AM on August 25, 2008

Since when is putting cream on your body, going to sleep and washing it off in the morning a particularly "unpleasant" form of treatment? You probably don't need to leave it on more than 8 hours (in fact, here's a site that says don't leave it on more than 12 hours, and that "Leaving it on overnight is usually sufficient").

When I had scabies about 15 years ago, I was actually kind of mad when I found out it was so damn easy to treat, since I'd been misdiagnosed and itching insanely for weeks. One full-body application and night's sleep later, I was cured.

Please don't risk passing along scabies to your fellow vacationers. It really does suck to have them, and it's usually extremely easy to treat.
posted by mediareport at 6:44 AM on August 25, 2008

(sorry, didn't mean for that first sentence to sound so harsh. Can you tell I still remember how much it sucks to have scabies? :)
posted by mediareport at 6:57 AM on August 25, 2008

When 2 friends and I got it a while back (from a now non-existent hotel in Las Vegas), it really wasn't hard at all to treat. Just some prescription cream. Unless you have very sensitive skin, it's just...cream. I also don't really understand what's so unpleasant about it.

In fact, when I got it, I didn't even go to the doctor for it. One of my friends had already treated herself and had half a tube of cream left and just gave it to me. I used it, and poof! Byebye scabies. Yeah, maybe I technically could have been allergic or something, but I had high co-pays at the time, it was 8pm on a Friday, and I wasn't about to go all weekend knowing I had these things under my skin, and I had never had allergy problems before so I didn't give it a second thought. I'm not saying YOU should use your friend's prescription lotion if there's any left over, but that's what I did, and it was fine.

The only unpleasant thing was knowing I had scabies, not treating it. Gah! I feel icky now.
posted by AlisonM at 7:29 AM on August 25, 2008

You probably won't get it.
I had scabies a few months ago and I have more contact with my housemates and none of them got it. My boyfriend did get it though so the person she's sharing a bed with will definitely get it.
I think the cream is actually over the counter. People who had scabies said rubbing tea tree oil helped a little so maybe if you rub some on your skin it'll help with prevention.
posted by ad4pt at 8:47 AM on August 25, 2008

Apologies for not remembering the brand name - it's been a few years since I had scabies - but quite a few nit cream / remedies have the active ingredient permathrin (sp?). That's essentially the thing that'll get rid of the buggers. Walmart at one point used to sell a kit that included a spray for furniture, a cream for yours truly, and some kind of comb (presuming, of course, you had nits). Go to that section of your local big-box section and find something with permathrin with it - but whatever you do, don't inhale :)
posted by chrisinseoul at 11:41 AM on August 25, 2008

I got scabies from a hotel bed. It was a misery. So I say preventively treat yourself now (or, preferably, on the first day of your trip) so that you don't unknowingly pass it on. It's the kind thing to do.

I got half a tube of the Rx cream from my dad, but it didn't take care of them on the first application. I don't think there was enough left. The active ingredient in lice shampoo -- Rid and Nix are the two brands I know -- is the same as what's in the prescription cream, but it's at a lower concentration. If your doc doesn't want to prescribe the cream, just go to your drug store and buy the lice shampoo. Use it like you would the cream: After a shower at night, apply it to every square inch of your body. Don't forget the bottoms of your feet and the spaces in between your fingers and toes. Rinse it off in the morning. It smells for a bit, but you'll get over it.

I had to use it twice, several days apart, but it finally took care of them.

Seriously, you don't want the scabies. And anyone you render, um, scabid has every karmic right to curse you for seven lifetimes.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:56 PM on August 25, 2008

Treat it.

My husband's aunt and cousins spread that during my wedding. They hugged just about everyone, and didn't tell anyone because they were embarrassed. Then my husband and I and the rest of the wedding party developed it days later. I was still on my honeymoon.

Just treat it and don't risk passing it.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:40 PM on August 25, 2008

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