Conventional physicians would likely prescribe pharmaceutical topical or oral medications to treat scabies. However, remember that these medications may pose certain health risks, as they are usually made with potentially toxic chemical ingredients.
For example, permethrin, a commonly prescribed treatment for scabies, is said to be “generally safe” for adults, pregnant women, and children ages 2 months and older (but is not recommended to nursing mothers),1 yet it’s actually a carcinogenic synthetic pyrethroid that has been linked to lung tumors, liver tumors, immune system problems and chromosomal abnormalities.
Permethrin is an insecticide used in many commercial bug sprays.Fortunately, there are holistic treatment methods for scabies that will not put your health at risk, such as the use of essential oils. Check out these tips on how to get rid of scabies without resorting to conventional drugs.2,3
• Use tea tree oil. It contains terpinen-4-ol, a compound that helps kill scabies mites. This all-around oil also has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, disinfectant, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antifungal and wound-healing properties. To use it, simply:
◦ Mix a tablespoon each of tea tree oil and olive oil. Dab the solution on the affected area using a cotton ball at least twice daily, for two to three weeks. This will help decrease swelling and pain while speeding up healing.
◦ Add 10 to 12 drops of pure tea tree oil to your lukewarm bathwater. Soak in it twice daily for a few weeks.
Don’t forget to consult your physician before using tea tree oil, especially if you’re pregnant or lactating. People with sensitive skin should use this oil with caution, and do a skin patch test first.
• Try turmeric. This wonderful herb has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that may help relieve scabies symptoms. To use it:
◦ Make a thick paste by mixing a tablespoon of turmeric powder and a few drops of lemon juice and water. Apply this on the affected skin and leave it on for about an hour. Rinse off with lukewarm water. Do this once a day, until you notice significant improvement.
◦ Combine a one teaspoon of turmeric with neem powder, and then add water to form a smooth paste. Dab it on the affected areas and allow to dry. Afterwards, bath or shower to wash it off. Do this once a day.
• “Burn” the mites with cayenne pepper. Cayenne has been said to help kill parasites when used topically. It may also help with pain associated with scabies, as it contains capsaicin, a chemical that reduces pain sensations.
To use cayenne pepper, add a cup to your hot bathwater and soak in it until it becomes cold. Do not allow the water to get in your eyes, though, as it will sting. Alternately, you can make cayenne pepper cream by mixing it with a drop or two of water and applying it onto the affected areas.
• Neem oil and leaves may help. Neem offers antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help eradicate bacteria and fungus in your skin. Its smell also prevents scabies mites from reproducing, which can speed up the healing process. To use it:
◦ Massage neem oil directly on the affected area, allowing it to penetrate deep into the skin. Leave on for a few minutes before taking a bath. This should be done at least once daily for a few weeks.
◦ Combine two ounces of neem oil with two ounces of freshly ground turmeric powder, then apply to the affected area two or three times daily.
◦ Crush fresh neem leaves using a pestle and mortar. Wash the affected area thoroughly before applying this neem paste. Allow to dry naturally and then wash it off.
◦ Boil some neem leaves in a cup of water, and let it cool to room temperature. Drink one tablespoon three or four times a day, for a week or two, or until the mites and scabies are completely gone.
• Rub some clove oil on your skin. Clove is another essential oil that’s recommended for scabies because of its antimicrobial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps scabies blisters and rashes to dry up faster.
Simply combine 10 drops of clove oil with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of coconut oil. Rub this mixture onto the affected areas twice daily.
• Rosemary oil may help stop the infestation. It may also prevent the development of secondary infections and decreased pain.
• Pure lavender oil can promote skin cell regeneration. It works in killing parasitic mites like Sarcoptes scabiei. Dilute some in your bathwater and soak in it for a few minutes.
• Zinc can also help. Although it does not directly treat scabies, it may help prevent fungal outbreaks and infections. Grind a couple of zinc tablets and add a drop of water to make a paste. You can mix in some turmeric as well. Apply this on your skin for 30 minutes, and then rinse off with lukewarm water. Repeat once daily until the infection disappears.
• Make a white vinegar and water solution. It changes the pH level of the skin, which kills off the mites. Mix equal portions of white vinegar and water, dip a cotton ball, and rub it on the affected skin. Rinse off with warm water after a few minutes. Do this daily for 10 to 15 days.
• Speed up healing with aloe vera. It has antimicrobial properties that can speed up the healing of your skin. Apply fresh aloe vera gel on the affected areas, and leave it on for half an hour. Use lukewarm water to rinse thoroughly. It’s best to do this two or three times every day for a few weeks, until you see improvements.
• Control the itch naturally. Many physicians would recommend steroids or antihistamines, which may have severe side effects, to control the itching. Instead, you can try these safer techniques:
◦ Soak in cool water or apply a cool, wet washcloth to the affected areas. This will provide relief from itching.
◦ Apply calamine lotion. This may effectively relieve the pain and itching of mild scabies cases.