Continuous itching may lead to rashes on the skin, as well as blisters. These are symptoms that point toward the possibility of scabies. It is a contagious skin disorder that is known to be caused by an infestation of the itch mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. It is estimated that there are around 300 scabies cases that occur every year globally. It is a contagious disease that spreads through personal contact. It can spread through contact with a relative, in crowded areas, schools, parks, and getting in touch with chronically ill people and sexual partners. This condition can be very disturbing and annoying. There are various treatments, both conventional and home treatments, that are made available and can provide relief from the symptoms caused by scabies.
What is Scabies?
Scabies is a skin infestation that is caused by a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. If this condition is left untreated, then this mite can live in the skin for months. These mites reproduce on the surface of the skin and later burrow into it and lay eggs. This leads to the skin turning itchy, forming a redness and rash on the skin. This medical condition is very contagious and can get easily passed from one person to another via direct skin contact. This medical condition can be treated effectively, but it can also be very bothersome. The treatment, whether conventional or a home remedy, would usually involve killing the scabies mites along with their eggs. Since this condition is contagious, the doctor would usually recommend the treatment for an entire group, instead of just the one who is infected.
After the initial period of exposure to the mites, it would take up to five to six weeks for the symptoms to appear. However, in cases of those individuals who have had scabies earlier, the symptoms would appear rather quickly. The common symptom of this medical condition is a rash with an intense urge for itching. This tends to get worse during the night. If the individual scratches the infected area continuously, then it can lead to sores, which can become infected. For this additional infection, treatment would be required in addition to the scabies specific treatment.
The treatment for scabies would usually involve the first and foremost step of getting rid of the infestation with the help of ointments, creams, and lotions, provided either over the counter or as prescribed by the doctor. There are also oral medications. When it comes to ointment or creams, the doctor would ideally prescribe them to be applied in the nighttime before going to bed, since the mites are usually active around that time. You would need to apply it on all of your skin from the neck down, and in the morning, you can wash it off. Ensure to properly follow the instructions of the doctor. This topical treatment may need to be followed again after six to seven days.
Also, one should ensure to complete the follow-up treatment and also inform the close friends and family members, since it can reduce the spread of the infestation.
Below are some common medications that may be prescribed:
- Ten percent sulfur ointment
- One percent lindane lotion
- Five percent permethrin cream
- Ten percent crotamiton cream
Apart from the above, if there are some other bothersome symptoms, then the doctor would also prescribe the medications mentioned below:
- To kill any kind of infections that could develop due to constant scratching, the doctor could prescribe certain antibiotics.
- There are various steroids available in cream form to provide relief from itching and swelling at the affected area.
- To control the symptom of itching, one can be recommended antihistamines, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine).
If the scabies infection becomes severe and tends to be widespread, then the doctor would need to start more aggressive treatment. He can provide an oral tablet called Ivermectin (Stromectol), which is given to those individuals who have certain conditions mentioned below:
- Crusted form of scabies
- After going with the initial form of treatment, there are no signs of improvement
- The scabies have spread to most parts of the body
In the initial week of starting the treatment, the individual would feel that the symptoms are not improving; rather, they would show signs of worsening. However, in the second week, one would notice that the itching has reduced, and by the end of the fourth week, there would be noticeable changes in the symptoms, leading to complete healing of the infection. The portion of the skin which has not healed within a month can still be infested with the scabies mites; hence, one should note that the post scabies itch can remain for up to a month.
10 Home Remedies for Scabies
There are various natural remedies available, such as cayenne pepper and tea tree oil, which are known to provide relief from the pain and at the same time help to eliminate the infestation. Also, one needs to ensure that proper guidelines are followed so as to keep the infestation at bay and also promote a healthy immune system.
Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is known to be very effective, and it acts as a topical treatment for scabies. It provides relief from itching and also heals the rash formed on the skin. However, the only drawback it has is that it does not work well on the eggs, which are laid deeper in the skin. One can add a few drops of tea tree oil in a bottle and spray it on the bleeding at the infected areas. Tea tree oil contains terpenoids, which are basically antimicrobial constituents that help to heal scabies from the top, as well as from beneath the skin. As per one research study, tea tree oil is known to have promising benefits for the healing of scabies. This is mostly known in those cases wherein the symptoms did not improve, even after the usage of typical forms of treatment. Tea tree oil has acaricidal properties that are known to kill the mites, and it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, as well. It has antipruritic properties to provide relief from itching. If there are any signs of an allergic reaction, then it is best to discontinue this remedy.
Neem: There are various forms of neem available in the market. Neem is available in its actual leaf form; apart from this, it is also available in the form of soap, oil, and creams. It is known to have a lot of health benefits; hence, it is used as an alternative treatment for scabies. Neem is loaded with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. In certain laboratory tests, neem, with its active ingredients, has shown to cure a scabies infestation. Studies have shown that by using the neem seed extract shampoo, there have been successful stories of individuals being cured from scabies. Neem oil prevents the ability of growth and breeding of the mites. It tends to numb the pain and provide relief from itching, thus making it a perfect treatment for the scabies symptoms. It has been claimed as a safe and effective treatment that is very cheaply available.
Aloe Vera: As we all know, aloe vera is known to have a lot of benefit for the skin. It has soothing effects on the skin. It is known to provide relief from itching, and it kills the mites that cause scabies. Aloe vera should be purchased or bought in its pure form with no presence of additives. You can also purchase the natural leaf of the plant and apply that gel on the skin to provide a healing effect. Ensure it is cleaned before using it.
Cayenne Pepper: There have been certain studies that suggest that cayenne pepper is known to kill the mites causing scabies; however, the scientific backing on this subject is still lacking. It provides relief from pain and itching, which are the common symptoms of scabies. Cayenne contains capsaicin, which desensitizes the neurons present in the skin when the topical form of cayenne is applied on the affected area. There have been certain side effects associated with cayenne pepper wherein people have mentioned this remedy causing a burning sensation. Hence, one must first test the cream on a small patch of skin before applying it on the other body parts. One way of using cayenne pepper is by adding a cup of cayenne pepper to hot bath water. Sit in the bath until the water becomes cold, after which you can rinse your body. However, ensure that it does not get into your eyes, else it would lead to a burning or stinging sensation. Apart from this, you can make a paste by grinding cayenne and adding one or two drops of water to it. Mix it well, and apply this paste on the visible burrows that are beneath the skin surface.
Clove oil: Clove oil also has a host of beneficial properties, such as antioxidant, anesthetic, and antimicrobial properties. These properties would help to speed up the healing process. It is also known to be an effective insecticidal. Clove has been known to be effective in killing scabies as per one survey. It is mostly used to dry up the rashes and blisters caused by scabies. One can combine eight to ten drops of clove oil along with a teaspoon of honey and coconut oil, which would provide a lot of relief to the skin. You can rub it gently on the affected area two times per day. Apart from clove oil, the other essential oils that are also recommended for scabies treatment are orange, nutmeg, peppermint, lemongrass, and thyme.
Anise seed oil: The oil that is extracted from the anise seeds provides insecticidal properties. Anise seed oil is known to treat scabies, as well as head lice. However, there is a lack of evidence on whether or not this oil is safe for pregnant ladies, but you can contact the doctor before going ahead with this treatment.
Rosemary Oil: Rosemary oil has the power to cure and stop the scabies infestation. It helps to reduce the pain and also prevents the further development of secondary chances of infection. When rosemary oil and clove oil are combined, it would provide a significant antimicrobial property.
Clean clothing and bedding: One should immediately wash the bedding and the clothes that one has worn from the time of contracting scabies. If one is unsure about the time, then as a safety measure, it is best to wash all worn and used clothes, as well as bed covers and bed sheets. By doing the washing cycle alone, the mites would not get killed; hence, one should ensure that the drier is set at the hottest temperature.
Stay away from others or stay in one room: The less you touch, the less likely it is to spread to others. You should do your best when it comes to maintaining the home clean and free from scabies. The same goes for the surroundings, as well. One should limit the exposure to any person, furniture, or any other material. This is the case until you are completely treated and do not have any signs of mites on your skin. If one is finding it difficult to wash one's own clothes, then one need not worry; just maintain a separate bag with all used clothing, since the scabies mites cannot survive out of the body for longer than three days.
Ensure you maintain a healthy diet: Treatment is important, but a healthy diet is equally a must. This is so that the body’s immune system is strong and ready to fight against any kind of infection. You can work on having anti-inflammatory and detoxifying foods, since they would help the body to get rid of the harmful mites and also deal with the side effects caused by the medications. Intake of anti-inflammatory foods would also help in providing relief from discomfort, swelling, and itching. You can include foods such as green leafy veggies, coconut oil, blueberries, and walnuts.