Scabies are a contagious, itchy skin condition affecting close to a million Americans, and is caused by a bite of a mite, which is a bug so tiny you can’t see it on the skin.The mite burrows its way into the top layer of the skin where it lives and eats. Itchiness and a rash appear as a reaction to the mite. It is not a chronic condition and there are some proven home remedies that can help get rid of scabies naturally.
Mites usually travel from person to person through direct skin contact, but one can also contract scabies through bedding, clothing, and furniture. A mite can live up to 48 to 72 hours without human contact. The transmission of scabies is usually quicker in places like nursing homes and extended care facilities due to close proximity of residents to each other.
The bright side is, scabies can easily be detected and treated. It is not a chronic condition by any means.
Home remedies to get rid of scabies
Below you will find some home remedies that can help you get rid of scabies and ease the symptoms.
Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil is a well-known remedy for many different skin ailments, scabies included. For scabies relief, soak yourself in a bathtub with drops of tea tree oil. You can also mix one part tea tree oil and one part olive oil together and apply the mixture to the affected area.
Borax and hydrogen peroxide: Similar to tea tree oil, you can soak yourself in a bath with hydrogen peroxide and borax, which are known to be antibacterial agents and fungicides.
Clove oil: Mix clove oil with olive oil and coconut oil. Apply the mixture to the affected area.
Onion: Chop up an onion, put it in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and cover. When the juice is ready, soak a cotton ball in it and apply to the affected area.
Bleach: Mix one cup of bleach with three cups of water and dab in a cotton ball to absorb the mixture. Apply the solution onto the area and allow it to dry. Shower once dried.
White vinegar: Mix white vinegar with water in a one to one ratio. Apply the solution with a cotton ball to the affected area. Leave it on the skin for a few minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
Bush tea: Steep some bush tea and drink it a few times a day. You may wish to add honey for sweetness.
Neem oil: You can take a bath with neem oil, or you can dilute it with olive oil and apply to the affected area to get rid of scabies.
Lavender oil: Mix lavender oil with olive oil and apply to the area. You can also mix lavender oil with rubbing alcohol. Or, you can soak in a tub with lavender oil.
Bitter gourd: Run this exotic vegetable-fruit through a blender and drink the extracted juice a few times a day. You may want to add some lemon juice to counteract its bitter taste.
Cayenne pepper: Soak yourself in a tub with a cup of cayenne pepper for as long as you can. Shower and rinse yourself off once done. Note: this is an effective but aggressive treatment. Don’t try it if you have sensitive skin. Protect your eyes as best as you can.
Aloe vera: Break the leaves of an aloe plant, scrape the gel out, and apply to the affected area. If you don’t have a plant, you can buy some organic aloe vera gel in a bottle.
Diagnosis and treatment for scabies
A simple physical exam is often all your doctor needs in order to diagnose scabies. In some cases, your doctor may remove the mite (if present) and test it. If the mite is not easily found, your doctor may scrape off a small piece of skin to test the tissue sample. This examination can confirm the presence of mites or mite eggs.
Scabies is highly contagious, so if you are infected, you should avoid any contact with others to prevent passing it on. People who live with you are also recommended to start treatment for scabies as a preventative measure.
Scabies is not chronic and can be cured with a variety of topical solutions. If topical therapies are not successful in getting rid of scabies, then oral medications may be prescribed. The latter, however, should not be taken by pregnant women or children under 33 pounds.
Other medications such as antihistamines and antibiotics may be used to relieve symptoms as well.
Tips to manage scabies
To avoid the irritating rash that comes with scabies, you should avoid contact with mites as much as possible. If you have been infected before, to get rid of scabies, ensure your home is properly cleaned and vacuumed, and all linens are washed. You may want to clean the interior of your car as well.
Avoid other people who have scabies. Maintain proper hygiene, although it is not a known risk factor for scabies. Keep in mind the following risk factors that may increase the risk of scabies:
- New sexual partners
- More than two sexual partners
- Unprotected sexual intercourse
- Crowded housing
- Crowded workplace
- Nursing home as a place of residence or workplace
- Compromised immune system in elderly people
- Children at school or daycare
- Hospital workers
Properly cleaning and disinfecting items in your home is also important. Wash your bedding, towels, clothing, and pillows in extremely hot water (122 F/ 50 C) and drying them in a dryer (once again in hot heat) for 10 to 30 minutes.
Although scabies is not a life-threatening or chronic condition, it can be very irritating and disrupt your daily life. The good news is, it is treatable, so as long as you are not passing it on to other people, you will return back to normal pretty soon.