I am pleased to announce that after a long, and strenuous four month battle with scabies, I am now in remission. I say in remission because it is quite possible that it will show its ugly head once again with simple contact of an unknown carrier.
The treatment has been long and hard. It began by applying a cream no longer used in the United States because of the serious side effects. The cream was applied head to toe. About 10 minutes later, my body began to feel like thousands of needles were being pressed into my skin. This lasted about twenty minutes. Meanwhile, I could be found standing in front of a fan, taking really slow, deep breaths trying to think of anything other than my skin that was on fire. Then my sheets were changed for two consecutive nights.
Unwilling to go through that again, a doctor friend of mine brought me some Permethrin from the States. Permethrin is the preferred first line of scabies chemotherapy. It is a pesticide, but has minimal side effects if used correctly.
I spent about three weeks in remission last May, and was very content to not be taking benadryl to help me sleep through all the itching in the night. However, around the three week mark, a baby came into the hospital with scabies, unbeknown to me, and within a week, my arms were once again covered with the horrible sight of scabs and red bumps.
The next several weeks consisted of me using the Permethrin treatment about once every two weeks, without cure.
In July, I went back to the mission hospital for treatment, now with it metastasized to my legs. A new treatment regime was started called Ivermectin. I was to have two "rounds" of this pill-form treatment. To reduce the side effects of the allergy response and increased itching to the mite's cells being killed, I was put on a steroid taper for twelve days.
After the first round of treatment, the steroids did a good job of controlling the itching. However, a day after I began to taper them, I woke up in the morning with swollen lips and hives all over my body. I had an allergy to Ivermectin! This continued daily for about five days. I was taking benadryl every time I broke out in hives, which was about twice a day, and then fighting sleep the rest of the day. Finally, I was put on claritin and the symptoms subsided.
The new treatment regime was a fail, and I still had scabies. Back to the creams, that by this point I had developed a tolerance to, and were had become essentially ineffective.
I decided, that if I used the creams more frequently, it would surely get rid of these mites. Well, this did not help kill the scabies anymore than it had before. Instead, I started developing headaches, and feeling like I had less energy than normal. Too much pesticide was getting absorbed into my body, and it was toxic! On top of that, I had a mountain of sheets in my closet because I had to change them every time I did the treatment.
All other treatment plans exhausted, I turned to the one I had been avoiding even since I was first diagnosed--radiation. It was time to take a blow torch to the skin. It was the only way.
Ok--I didn't actually do that, but I think it did crossed my mind once or twice in moments of insanity from the itching:)
Instead of the blow torch, I chose a more mild form of localized treatment. Fingernail polish. After a month of applying fingernail polish on every new bump that showed up (and no, sometimes I did not have clear fingernail polish with me), I am now scabies free!
So, scabies isn't a life threatening condition by any means, but having it for four months, definitely helped me relate more to what these people go through everyday with untreated illnesses. Christ came to earth and lived like us so that He could help us. Why do I think I am above that?
I am moving into a nearby village where the electricity will probably go out daily and where it really isn't that safe compared to the nice guard protected hospital compound. I am really excited to be able to relate more to these beautiful people. Please keep me in your prayers!