The best way to prevent scabies is to avoid prolonged direct contact with people who have an active scabies infestation. Although shaking hands or giving a hug may not transfer the mites, holding hands or sexual intercourse may make you susceptible to the disease.
However, be warned that if the infestation has already progressed to Norwegian scabies,1 even brief skin-to-skin contact may infect you with mites. If someone in your home has scabies, then it is crucial to take necessary measures to prevent it from spreading. Here are some important tips to remember:2,3
• Stay in one area of your home. If you don’t move around much, there’s a smaller chance of transferring the mites to other furniture and other materials inside your home. Try to confine yourself in one room to isolate the infestation.
• Treat all members of your house at once. Scabies infestation usually reoccurs because people who have unknowingly contracted the mites have been untreated. Make sure that everyone in the household is treated, too. This includes pets.
Although dogs and cats are affected by a species of mites that’s different from the one that affects humans, they may still contract human scabies, leading to a temporary skin reaction. Ask your holistic veterinarian about safe scabies treatment options for your pet.
• Disinfect all clothes and linens. The day you start treatment, wash all the fabrics in your home immediately because even if a single mite survives, you can get scabies again.
Make sure that all clothes, towels, bedsheets and comforters, and other fabric materials used by the patient are thoroughly washed. Use hot soapy water and the hottest dryer cycle available, or have the infected items dry cleaned.
If there are furniture and other items that cannot be washed, enclose them in plastic bags and seal tightly, for a few days. Scabies mites can only live for a few days without a human host, so this technique will help kill them off.
• Vacuum your entire home, especially carpets and rugs, thoroughly. Discard the vacuum bag once you’re done. You can also use bleach and hot water to clean other surfaces that may be infected with scabies mites.
• Do not scratch your skin. This will only worsen the infestation, as scratching can cause mites to transfer to uninfected parts of your body, increasing your risk of a secondary skin infection.
• Reduce stress. Anxiety and stress may make the itch more severe. Try practicing meditation, yoga, or the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to relieve stress. Reading and prayer may also be effective stress relief methods.
• Consume a healthy diet. Anti-inflammatory foods may help relieve itching, swelling and discomfort brought on by the rashes. Some of the best foods you can consume include leafy greens, homemade bone broth, beets, wild Alaskan salmon, coconut oil, walnuts and blueberries.