Here are some of the most common questions about scabies:
How do you get rid of scabies?
The most common effective treatments for scabies are permethrin cream and ivermectin in pill form. These are the standard treatments prescribed by medical professionals. It is also a good idea to complement these treatments with other natural treatments. Some proven scabies killers are tea tree oil, clove oil, sulfur, neem oil, neem powder and bleach. Scabies also hate heat and will die if exposed to temperatures of over 50°C (122°F) for more than 10 minutes (that’s too hot for a spa bath, unfortunately). For a guide to using these treatments properly to get rid of scabies once and for all, take a look at my Complete Guide To Getting Rid Of Scabies. It’s based on my own scabies experience and I hope it will help you get rid of scabies too.
How do you know if you have scabies?
The best way to know if you have scabies is to have a medical professional look at your skin through a small microscope. You can also do this yourself but it is quite hard to know what you’re looking for. Another way is to do a skin scrape, but you also need a microscope to identify the mites. For some people, it’s pretty clear that they have scabies from the symptoms alone.
What are the symptoms of scabies?
- A relentless itch, especially at night time.
- Patches of small red bumps, especially on the thighs, arms, groin area, buttocks, and between the fingers.
- Small lines between the bumps, which signal the burrowing of the mites.
How soon do symptoms show after a scabies infestation?
If it’s your first time having scabies, symptoms start to show after 4-6 weeks. If you’ve had scabies before, symptoms will show again within a couple of days.
How many scabies mites are on my skin?
If you have regular scabies, you will have around 10-20 mites on your skin at any one time. If you have the more severe crusted scabies, you can have hundreds of mites at one time and it’s important you get treated properly. For the most part, both forms of scabies are treated with the same medication, although treatment for crusted scabies might be more aggressive.
How do you get scabies?
Scabies is contracted from prolonged skin-to-skin contact. This includes things like hugging, holding hands, or even standing near someone on the subway with exposed skin. You can also get scabies from furniture and clothing, especially when shared, however this is less common. In adults it is most commonly spread during sexual contact, or people sharing the same bed. In kids it is often spread from child-to-child in daycare and schools, or from parent to child.
How long does scabies treatment take?
Scabies are usually killed with one treatment, however follow up treatments are necessary as often not all mites are reached in a single treatment. Usually treatments take between 7-14 days, followed by supportive treatment if necessary.
I’ve been treated for scabies but I’m still itchy! Why?
It’s common for people to experience scabies symptoms even after successful treatment. This is because there are still burrows, dead mites and scabies faeces under the skin and your body needs time to expel them. This can result in prolonged itching while your body heals. Post scabies itch can last for several months.
Can you die from scabies?
No, scabies cannot kill you. Although they can sometimes make you feel like it!
Is scabies an STD?
No – scabies is not considered an STD, although it is commonly spread to and from sexual partners, as that is one of the most common forms of human skin-to-skin contact.
Can you cure scabies naturally?
Many people report curing their scabies naturally, although this is a much longer treatment and it is not as effective. If you want to cure your scabies naturally, it is likely to take at least 3-4 weeks of constant treatment, and even then it is not guaranteed. The most effective way to kill scabies fast is to use a combination of permethrin cream and oral ivermectin. More details of this can be found in my treatment guide.
Can you see scabies?
Scabies are microscopic. You can only see them under a microscope, and even then it can be hard to know what you’re looking for. They’re very small! If you ever read online about people using a treatment and seeing the mites falling off their skin, they are talking nonsense. You cannot see mites, or eggs, with the naked eye.
Should I tell people I have scabies?
If you treat yourself promptly there shouldn’t be high risk of your transmitting scabies to your workmates and friends. Scabies is not lethal and the only people you are obligated to consult immediately are your partner and anyone you live with. If there is anyone you have had prolonged skin-to-skin contact with, you should probably inform them too. However, if people think they have scabies, they should visit a doctor and get diagnosed before treating!
Should I treat my family too?
You should treat everybody that is living in your household. While they may not all have scabies, they are quite likely to pick it up if living in close quarters with you. Ideally they should get diagnosed by a doctor, but sometimes it is better safe than sorry and they should treat anyway. I would recommend treatment, but in the end it’s a personal choice.
Why don’t people take scabies more seriously?
To be honest it is not a very serious disease. There are no reported deaths due to scabies and it is very treatable with the right medications. In fact the most harm from scabies seems to come from the emotional distress it causes! Needless to say it is still a horrible thing to have and would be nice if people took it more seriously.
Does scabies mean I’m unhealthy?
No, scabies can infect anyone and has nothing to do with your health. Scabies will burrow into anyone’s skin and they don’t discriminate!
Does Manuka honey kill scabies?
There may be some anecdotal evidence that extracts from the manuka plant kills scabies, but nothing has been confirmed via a public study (yet). Manuka offers many antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, so it cannot hurt to try. As for scabies treatment itself, it’s probably best to stick with the treatments that are tried and tested.
Can essential oils kill scabies?
There have been studies confirming the effectiveness of several essential oils in scabies treatment, namely tea tree oil, clove oil, palmarosa oil and neem oil. You can read more about these studies in this article.
Are scabies worse than bed bugs?
Scabies get compared to bed bugs often.
To be honest, both are horrible and you would never want either.
But if you’ve dealt with one in the past, it can often help you to deal with the other.
In my opinion, scabies is a far more serious situation than bed bugs.
Here are a few reasons:
- Scabies actually live on your body. Bed bugs only live in bedding and furniture.
- Scabies are microscopic. Bed bugs can be seen with the naked eye.
- Scabies is difficult to treat and requires various treatments. Bed bugs can be treated with sprays and hot washing.
- Scabies damage your skin by burrowing and laying eggs and faeces. Bed bugs only bite.
For these reasons, bed bugs is the far lesser of both evils, in my opinion.
Can scabies live in my house?
Yes, scabies can survive anywhere between 3-20 days off a human host, depending on the climate. It’s important to clean your house thoroughly during and after scabies treatment. Follow this guide.
Can bleach kill scabies?
There are no completed studies that confirm this, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence around the web of people having success with bleach as a treatment. It would do no harm to add it to your treatment, but the proven treatments should definitely be used too.
Is there a scabies vaccine?
Scabies is a skin parasite and cannot be treated in the same way as viruses and other illnesses. Therefore, there is currently no vaccine for scabies and one is not expected in the near future.
What’s the difference between scabies and a fungal infection?
Scabies is not related to fungi in any way. Scabies is a parasite the burrows and lives under your skin. A fungal infection is a fungal growth such as ringworm that lives atop your skin. The symptoms may look somewhat similar for some people, but the treatments are very different.
Does aloe vera kill scabies?
No, aloe vera has not been shown scabicidal effects in any studies. However, it can be helpful for soothing your skin after scabies treatment.
Does alcohol kill scabies?
This is a common question and I assume it’s referring to rubbing alcohol as opposed to drinking alcohol. There has been some evidence to show rubbing alcohol can kill bugs on hard surfaces, however when applied to the skin it will not penetrate deep enough to kill burrowed mites or eggs. You must use a proper scabies treatment on the skin such as permethrin, neem, clove or tea tree oil.
Can garlic kill scabies?
As of now there are no studies showing garlic can be scabicidal, taken internally or applied topically.
What’s the difference of scabies vs herpes?
Scabies and herpes are two very different conditions. While the symptoms might present similarly (spots or sores) the cause is different. Scabies spots or sores are caused by mites burrowing and biting into the skin. Herpes are caused by the HSV virus and will usually present on the genitals or lips. The treatment for both is very different – scabies require some kind of insecticide/parasite treatment such as permethrin or ivermectin. Herpes will require anti viral treatment.
Can epsom salt kill scabies?
There are no studies showing epsom salts will kill scabies. However, epsom salt baths can be beneficial for healing your skin after a scabies infection has been cleared.
Do sunbeds help scabies?
Scabies cannot survive at heats above 50°C (122°F). Unfortunately, a sunbed does not get to temperatures this high. Even if they did, the layer under your skin wouldn’t get hot enough to reach killing temperature for scabies. Therefore, no, sunbeds do not help with treating scabies.
Does dry cleaning kill scabies?
Dry cleaning often gets to temperatures around 60–63 °C/140–145 °F. As this is above the temperature scabies mites can survive, yes, dry cleaning is likely to kill any scabies mites that may be residual on your cltohes. According to the CDC, dry cleaning is an effective way to get rid of scabies in clothes and upholstery.