Can a sauna kill scabies? This is an interesting question.
If you’ve read the CDC brief on scabies, it will tell you that scabies cannot survive at heats above 50°C (122°F). If you can expose scabies mites to that heat for more than ten minutes, they die.
This leads a lot of smart people to think – what about a scabies sauna!!
A sauna usually runs from 70°C (158°F) and upwards, so surely sitting in a hot sauna for 10 minutes would kill all the mites, no?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
This is because of two reasons:
Scabies mites don’t live on the surface of your skin
The thing about scabies mites is they burrow underneath your skin. That means in many ways, they are protected from external elements, one of these being heat.
If your skin is exposed to heats of 70°C (158°F), that doesn’t mean the mites are necessarily being exposed to the same temperatures. A sauna for scabies can still be effective, and often will kill the portion of mites that are atop the surface of your skin, but a sauna is certainly not a complete treatment for scabies because eliminating scabies in a sauna is simply not possible. The mites underneath your skin will still survive and still continue to burrow and breed.
Your body temperature doesn’t rise that much in a sauna
Interestingly, if you read the science on saunas, they don’t actually raise the core temperature of your body by that much – 2 to 3 degrees at most. If you sit in a 70°C (158°F) sauna, it doesn’t mean your body temperature will also rise to that amount. Your body temperature will raise a little, possibly to around 41 or 42°C (108°F).
This is because your body is designed to regulate it’s temperature to survive your environment. If you’re in a snow cave, your body doesn’t just drop it’s body to freezing like the ice you’re sitting on, it works hard to increase your body temperature to survive! The same happens in a sauna. This means, unfortunately, any scabies under the surface of your skin will very comfortably survive that temperature.
Should you use a sauna to treat scabies?
Spending time in the sauna will certainly not worsen your scabies condition, and in fact you may succeed in killing some surface mites, which is still great. Any scabies mite killed is a victory, of course! However if you’re wondering whether a sauna will kill scabies completely, the answer unfortunately is no. Therefore it would be unwise to rely completely on sauna treatment to cure your scabies.
The best way to ensure a full recovery from scabies is to use a full array of treatments. That means prescription treatments like permethrin and ivermectin, plus natural treatments like tea tree oil and neem oil, plus supportive treatments like moisturizing, sulfur baths and saunas.
Only a multi pronged approach like this will ensure a fast and full recovery.
How to treat scabies with saunas? Follow these steps:
1. Don’t over do it
Spend a maximum of 15 minutes in the sauna, then get out, and then repeat if you really want to. Remember, the CDC says scabies die after ten minutes exposure above 120 degrees, so very long saunas to kill scabies are unnecessary. Also remember you don’t want to stress your body out too much during scabies treatment. Your immune system is already on high alert and what you need is rest and recovery, not intense treatments.
2. Moisturize with scabies-killing oils
After your sauna, your pores will be open from the heavy sweat. Take advantage of this to get some scabies-killing treatments into your skin. First, dry your skin thoroughly. Then moisturize with an effective scabies treatment.
My recommendation would be a tea tree oil moisturizer. Tea tree oil has been shown to be extremely effective against scabies, even permethrin-resistant scabies which are certainly one of your worst enemies (see this study). To make your own tea tree oil moisturizer, simply mix three to four drops of quality tea tree oil to a spoonful of simple moisturizer and rub it over your skin. Not only does this help to eradicate scabies, it’s great for the skin too (and even smells quite plesant!)
3. Combine your saunas with a proper scabies treatment routine
Like I’ve said many times before, the absolute best way to kill scabies is to hit it hard. Doing a few treatments a day or whenever you feel like it isn’t going to work. Scabies have survived humans for thousands of years and you are not going to get rid of them by doing a half-effort treatment. You need a rigorous, focused and diligent treatment over two weeks to kill scabies. The good news is, if you do that, you should get rid of scabies relatively quickly and painlessly. It’s when you let it get out of control by doing “soft” treatments that the misery begins.