When you’re first diagnosed with scabies, you’re generally prescribed permethrin cream. The doctor’s orders are usually to apply the permethrin to your entire body, from the chin down to the bottoms of your feet.
This isn’t bad advice. In fact, I think permethrin is one of the best available treatments for scabies, as long as you use it properly.
However, you’re usually advised to leave it off the scalp and face.
Don’t worry, scabies can’t live there, is the the usual advice.
But how true is this?
Across the internet you’re going to find people who swear their scabies has spread to their face and scalp. And most doctors will concede that it’s not uncommon to see scabies on the scalp in young children.
That means, we need to learn how to treat it. Scabies in the scalp of your toddler means it could easily spread to you, and then you’re dealing with your own scabies misery which you really do not want, trust me!
Why can’t you use permethrin on the face and scalp?
The reason permethrin can’t be used on the face or scalp is because it’s an insecticide. If you go and check your can of bug spray at home, you’ll see the active ingredient is permethrin. That means it’s a poison and needs to be kept very clear of your scalp, because the skin is particularly thin there, and your face, due to proximity to your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Even when applied to safer areas of the body, such as the legs or arms, it needs to be washed off after eight hours.
If you are about to use permethrin, I highly, highly, recommend reading my guide to using permethrin properly. Most people use it completely wrong, which leads to it not working and leaving people frustrated. If you want to make sure permethrin kills your scabies infestation, make sure you use it correctly! You can read the guide by clicking here.
How to treat scabies in the face and scalp
If you can’t use permethrin to treat scabies on the face and scalp, what should you use?
The first thing I’m going to recommend is to take ivermectin. Outside of the US, ivermectin is already a standard treatment for scabies anyway, so your doctor will probably prescribe it alongside permethrin.
If you’re in the US, you’re going to have to get ivermectin on your own. I’ve got a guide explaining how to do that safely and affordably here.
The reason ivermectin is going to be effective is because it’s a pill – it’s an internal treatment, unlike permethrin which is an external treatment. Obviously, an internal treatment is designed to treat the entire body, while an external treatment is only designed to treat the area that you apply it. If you want to treat the scalp and face safely, ivermectin is definitely going to be one of your best shots. Ivermectin is also toxic, so getting the dosage correct is essential. You can read more about correct dosing in my ivermectin guide here.
Tea tree oil
The great thing about tea tree oil is it is actually good for your skin, unlike permethrin, and is a common ingredient in many natural creams and moisturizers.
One thing you do need to be cautious of is that you don’t use tea tree oil too concentrated, and definitely do not use it neat (meaning not diluted with anything) on your face or scalp. The oil is extremely strong and has the ability to burn the skin if not used responsibly.
The standard way to use tea tree oil (or any essential oil) is to mix it with a carrier oil. I’d recommend using coconut oil, because it is extremely soothing to the skin, is a great moisturizer, and is antimicrobial. A good rule of thumb would be 2-3 drops of tea tree oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil.
Neem oil is possibly the best natural treatment there is for scabies because of how safe it is. While there are more potent scabies killers, like clove oil, they can be quite harsh on the skin and can burn. Neem oil is actually great for the skin and even people who don’t have scabies use it for their face masks and other skin therapy.
The reason neem is so good against scabies is because it is a natural insecticide. The neem tree is actually renowned repelling insects, and neem powders and neem oils are just extracts of the tree that we use on your body. Neem was actually shown to have a 97% cure rate for scabies in one Indian study, making it one of the most effective treatments there is. You can read more about this in my neem article.
The way I recommend using neem oil is applying it to the face and scalp and then leaving it for some time, usually around 30-45 minutes. I also like to mix it with other oils, such as coconut oil and tea tree oil, to get as much goodness into the skin as possible. After 30-45 minutes, wash it out under the shower and then repeat again the following day. Any scabies that were nestled in there won’t be alive much longer! The neem oil I use and recommend is this one.
In fact, this neem mask is the basis of my ultimate natural scabies treatment, which you can check out here.
There you go – three effective ways to treat scabies on the face and scalp. Best of luck!!
Are you suffering from scabies? I would recommend reading my Ultimate Guide To Getting Rid Of Scabies. This is the exact treatment I used to cure my own scabies, after many hours of research, reading studies, and testing. Almost all the ingredients can be found at your local health store or supermarket, and of course the guide is completely free as well. I really hope it helps! You can read it here.