Scabies is caused by the human itch mite, or sarcoptes scabei. It’s itchy, painful, and downright annoying. To the naked eye, scabies are invisible. They burrow into human skin where they live and feed.1 To kill the mites, you’ll need prescription medicine.
Symptoms include pimple-like rashes, severe itching, and redness. The scratching can lead to sores, increasing the risk for infection.2 A scabies infestation can affect anyone, even if you’re squeaky clean. The mites spread through skin-to-skin contact and prolonged exposure. Examples include sex or furniture, but handshakes and hugs don’t last long enough. Pets can’t catch scabies, so you won’t get it from animals.
Each year, 300 million people get scabies.3 In the United States, they’re most common in nursing homes and extended-care institutions. It’s all because of the constant contact between employees and residents. People with weak immune systems, children, and their children are also at risk.4 Scabies won’t go away on their own. Treatment is a must, so visit the doctor. However, home remedies, such as these, can speed up the process and can be used as is or with prescription medicines.
5 Ways To Treat Scabies Naturally
1. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a popular natural remedy. It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for skin irritation. But did you know that it’s an acaricidal, too? This means it can kill mites! Plus, tea tree oil heals wounds and relieves itching. Because of these benefits, it’s the perfect scabies cure. Although some scabies have built resistance against traditional treatments, tea tree oil has shown true potential.5 Here’s how you can use it.
Tea Tree Oil Bath Soak
- Fill the bathtub with warm or lukewarm water.
- Add 10 to 12 drops of tea tree oil.
- Sit in the tub. Avoid submerging your face, as it may sting your eyes.
Tea Tree Oil Moisturizer
- Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil with 5 drops of tea tree oil.
- Soak a cotton ball.
- Apply to the affected areas.
- Repeat twice daily.
Tea Tree Oil Spray
- Combine 5 to 10 drops of tea tree oil with 1 cup witch hazel or water.
- Pour into a spray bottle.
- Spritz 2 or 3 times a day.
2. Clove Oil
Clove oil is an extremely potent antiseptic. The benefits come from eugenol, its major active compound. According to the journal PloS one, it’s also acaricidal!6 To use it, follow the tea tree oil recipes and replace tea tree oil with clove oil. But keep in mind that clove is harsher. Play it safe and use half as many drops.
3. Neem Oil
Neem oil is a powerful insecticidal. So, it’s no surprise that it can kill scabies. This is due to an active compound called octadecanoic acid-3,4-tetrahydrofuran diester. Within an hour, neem oil can destroy mites by interrupting their energy metabolism.7 The oil can be used just like tea tree oil. If you’d like, combine a few drops of neem oil with tea tree oil in the recipes.
4. Nutmeg Oil
Eugenol is a minor compound in nutmeg oil. It’s not as potent as clove, and only has moderate toxicity against mites.8 Regardless, it wouldn’t hurt to enhance your remedy with nutmeg oil. Consider adding a few drops for extra protection.
5. Wash Everything
Yes, everything. Mites can be present and survive in bedding, towels, and clothing. They can survive 48 to 72 hours without human contact, so don’t give them a chance to thrive.9 Use very hot water. If you’d like, opt for a laundry detergent infused with tea tree oil.
For extra protection, vacuum every inch of your home. Everyone you live with should also be treated. By doing so, you can avoid repeated infestations.10
|↑1||Scabies: Overview. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑2||Scabies. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑3||Thomas, Jackson, Christine F. Carson, Greg M. Peterson, Shelley F. Walton, Kate A. Hammer, Mark Naunton, Rachel C. Davey et al. “Therapeutic potential of tea tree oil for scabies.” The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 94, no. 2 (2016): 258-266.|
|↑4||Scabies: Who Gets and Causes. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑5||Thomas, Jackson, Christine F. Carson, Greg M. Peterson, Shelley F. Walton, Kate A. Hammer, Mark Naunton, Rachel C. Davey et al. “Therapeutic potential of tea tree oil for scabies.” The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 94, no. 2 (2016): 258-266.|
|↑6, ↑8||Pasay, Cielo, Kate Mounsey, Graeme Stevenson, Rohan Davis, Larry Arlian, Marjorie Morgan, DiAnn Vyszenski-Moher, Kathy Andrews, and James McCarthy. “Acaricidal activity of eugenol based compounds against scabies mites.” PloS one 5, no. 8 (2010): e12079.|
|↑7||Chen, Zhen-zhen, Yun-xia Deng, Zhong-qiong Yin, Qin Wei, Mei Li, Ren-yong Jia, Jiao Xu et al. “Studies on the acaricidal mechanism of the active components from neem (Azadirachta indica) oil against Sarcoptes scabiei var. cuniculi.” Veterinary parasitology 204, no. 3 (2014): 323-329.|
|↑9||Scabies: Overview. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑10||Scabies: Diagnosis and Treatment. American Academy of Dermatology.|