What is scabies?
Scabies is a parasitic infestation in which Sarcoptes scabei mites burrow under the skin and cause intense itching.
What are the symptoms of scabies?
Aside from intense itching, which usually is worse at night, symptoms may include hive-like bumps on the skin. These lesions tend to first appear between the fingers or on the elbows, wrists, buttocks, or waist. The mites can also burrow under fingernails or around the skin near watch-bands or rings. The itching of scabies results primarily from the body’s allergic reaction to the mites, their eggs and their waste.
Vigorous scratching can break the skin and allow a secondary bacterial infection to occur. Superficial infections of the skin, known as impetigo, are caused most often by staph (staphylococcal) and occasionally strep (streptococcal) bacteria. These bacterial infections can cause localised inflammation marked by redness, swelling, heat and pain as well as a honey-coloured exuded fluid.
Scabies can become a serious problem in those with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV or cancer. Scabies can also be an issue for those with chronic illnesses or living in institutionalised settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, childcare facilities and nursing homes. If the condition becomes chronic, a more severe and very contagious form of scabies may develop called crusted scabies, which causes a hard, scaly rash that covers large areas of the body and can be difficult to treat.
What are the causes?
Sarcoptes scabei is a microscopic eight-legged mite. Females burrow just beneath the skin, creating a tunnel in which they deposit their eggs. The eggs mature in about three weeks, after which the new mites hatch and burrow to the skin’s surface, from which they can spread to other areas of the skin or to other people. Close physical contact and, less often, sharing clothing or bedding with an infected person can spread the mites. The mites can live for up to a month on the human body, but can’t survive for more than 48-72 hours elsewhere, and laundering eliminates them. Despite urban legends, humans cannot get scabies from pets. Animals attract types of mites that don’t survive on the human body.
Salt Water Bathing
Common table salt in a warm bath cured my Scabies. After soaking for 15 minutes, get out of the bath and drip dry. Do not use a towel, but if you must, just pat dry with kitchen towels as they are more hygenic. If needed, repeat after 4 days.
The salt will get into the mite holes to kill the eggs, and also kill the mites on the surface almost instantly.
Herbal Skin Treatment
Make up a mixture of:
- Oil of cloves – kills the mites and reduces the pain – 50 parts
- Tea Tree oil – kills the mites and any bacterial infections – 10 parts
- Rosemary oil – kills the mites, reduces itching and inflammation – 5 parts
- Lavender oil (optional) – kills the mites, reduces the inflammation and itching – 5 parts
and apply to the skin of whole body especially where itching and inflammation.
Precautions to Take When You Have Scabies
Treat All Family Members and Close Contacts
Most scabies recurrences are because of reinfection from untreated contacts. It’s so important that your loved ones receive scabies treatment too, and don’t forget about your pets! Although cats and dogs are affected by their own distinct species of mites, they can still contract human scabies, which causes a temporary skin reaction and keeps the mites in your home. Contact your veterinarian about pet treatments for scabies.
Wash Bedding and Clothing
Immediately wash the bedding and clothes that you used or wore since the time of contracting scabies. If you aren’t sure of the exact time, then be safe and wash all of your worn clothes and bedsheets. The laundry cycle alone may not kill the mites, so make sure your drier is on the hottest setting possible, even better yet, dry on outside clothes line in full sun.
Vacuum Furniture and Carpet
After vacuuming the furniture and carpet at home, make sure to throw away the vacuum bag because it may contain mites. Using a steam cleaner with borax powder can be even more effective.
Stay in One Small Room or Area
The less you touch, the less you have to disinfect after the scabies has been treated. Do your best to keep your home and environment scabies-free by limiting your exposure to furniture, materials and people. If you can’t wash your clothing or towels right away, put them in a tied plastic bag; scabies mites cannot survive off of the body for longer than three days.
Avoid Scratching Itchy Skin
Scratching your itchy skin does not actually provide relief because the problem is still there. In fact, scratching the infested area only makes matters worse because it can spread the mites across your body and increase your risk of a secondary skin infection.
Try to Minimize Stress
Stress can increase the severity of itchiness, which will lead to scratching and the possibility of skin infections. For this reason, it is important to minimize stress. Try stress relievers, such as relaxing exercises like yoga or taking a long walk. Read a chapter or passage from your favorite book, or practice meditation. Dealing with a scabies infestation can be difficult to handle emotionally and mentally, but try your best to stay positive — there are cures, but it takes some time.
Eat a Healthy Diet
When dealing with scabies, it’s important that your body’s immune system is ready to work hard. Sticking to detoxifying and anti-inflammatory foods is beneficial as you rid the body of these harmful mites and deal with the side effects of medications. Anti-inflammatory foods also help to relieve swelling, itching and discomfort. Some of the best foods to add into your diet include leafy greens, beets, walnuts, blueberries, salmon, coconut oil and bone broth.