Gandhaka Ointment for Scabies

Scabies is a contagious skin disease caused by infestation with itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei). It spreads by skin-to-skin contact with a person who carries the mite. Less commonly, scabies can spread through sharing of clothes and bedding. Scabies is most common among household members and sexual partners of affected individuals. It is also common in congested areas such as hostels, dormitories, army camps, prisons, nursing homes and hospitals. In people with compromised immune systems and malnutrition, scabies can be an extensive disease of skin thickening and a scaly rash and the syndrome called crusted scabies or Norwegian scabies.

Gandhaka ointment is an effective preparation made form Gandhaka (sulphur), Tila oil (sesame oil) and Siktha (bee wax).

Preparation of Gandhaka ointment

Step 1: Method of purification of Gandhaka

  1. Take fine powder of Gandhaka in a ladle, add a little amount of clarified butter or ghee, melt it and pour into the vessel which contains cow’s milk.
  2. This process is repeated seven times.
  3. Collect the purified Gandhaka on cooling to room temperature and wash with plenty of luke-warm water.

  4. After drying, prepare the fine powder of purified Gandhaka and preserve it for further use.

Step 2: Take the ingredients in following proportion.

1Gandhaka powder25 grams1/4th part
2Siktha (bee wax)100 grams1 part
3Tila oil500 grams5 parts

Apparatus required for preparing ointment comprises mortar and pestle, steel vessel, spoon, gas stove or heating plate, weighing balance, and thermometer. The procedure is as follows:

  1. Tila oil is taken in a steel vessel and heated up to 130 °C and then cooled to 70° C.
  2. Dissolve small pieces of Siktha (bee wax) into the oil with continuous stirring till a homogenous mixture called siktha taila is obtained.
  3. Siktha taila is taken in mortar and triturated with pestle adding Gandhaka powder till ointment-like consistency is achieved.


  • Over-heating of the oil should be avoided.
  • The trituration should be firm enough to avoid formation of gritty particles.

Dose and mode of administration

  • Gandhaka ointment is applied externally on the affected parts of the body once or twice daily and left on the lesions for an hour or so.
  • Thereafter, the lesions should be cleaned with warm water.
  • Repeat the procedure daily for 7 to 10 days or till all the lesions disappear.

Precautions and safety aspects

  1. Gandhaka should not be used in formulations without subjecting it to purification.
  2. Persons sensitive to sulphur should not use this application.
  3. If the skin lesions do not heal within a few days of application, proper medical guidance should be sought.
  4. Gandhaka ointment should not be used on open wounds and lesions.
  5. Persons with scabies having secondary bacterial infection should avoid the use of Gandhaka ointment.
  6. Persons known to have scabies should avoid having close skinto- skin contact until they have been cured.
  7. If a member of a family has scabies, all other household members, sexual partners and close contacts should be treated simultaneously.
  8. Use gloves and gowns when treating others with a suspicious rash and itching.
  9. Wash all clothing, towels and bed linens that were used in the last three days by the affected person, with hot water.
  10. Use the dryer at high heat rather than air drying. Since the mites cannot survive on nonliving objects for several days, therefore place the objects that are not machine-washable such as coats and stuffed toys into a bag and store for a week.
  11. Cut nails and clean them thoroughly to remove any mites or eggs.
  12. Try to avoid scratching and keep all open sores clean and aseptic.

Reference – Traditional Herbal Remedies for Primary Health Care

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