Can you use essential oils for scabies?
There are many blogs and forum posts around the web claiming different essential oils as good scabies treatments. Peppermint oil and rosemary oil are two good examples. Unfortunately most of them are unlikely to help. None of these claims are backed by studies and are backed by a slim amount of anecdotal evidence at best.
Most essential oils are completely useless against scabies (but not all of them!)
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to try any “unproven” essential oils for scabies, and I would encourage anybody to try any treatment that makes sense to them. Many essentials oils haven’t been studied as scabies treatments, so it’s possible they do work and we just don’t know it. What I’m saying is there’s just no evidence to support most of them right now.
Remember we need to understand what scabies is – it’s a parasite that lives under the surface of our skin. There are various essential oils good for things like stress, fungal infections, insomnia, even bacterias and viruses, but killing a parasite is a much more difficult task.
Luckily if you’re an essential oils fan, there is good news. There are four essential oils that have been the subject of proper studies, and have been shown to be effective at killing scabies eggs and mites.
Let’s go through them:
Tea Tree Oil (Malaleuca)
Tea tree oil is an oil extracted from the tea tree plant in Australia and New Zealand, also known as the malaleuca tree. It is a strong but pleasant smelling oil with a very light green tinge. It can burn the skin of infants if applied bare, but mixed with carrier oils like coconut oil or olive oil, it is very safe.
There have been many scabies studies done on tea tree oil and scabies. Aborigines in Australia have used it for years as a scabies treatment, especially as scabies is prevalent in their society.
Here’s an extract from this study that was done in 2016:
“The in vitro scabicidal activity of TTO (tea tree oil) against human scabies mites, S. scabiei, demonstrated a superior result in comparison with standard treatments (150 minutes with ivermectin 100 μg/g; 120 minutes with permethrin 5%, compared with 60 minutes median survival time with 5% TTO).
That result is saying that tea tree oil was actually a more effective treatment than permethrin and ivermectin – the standard treatments you will get at the doctor today, making tea tree oil one of the best essential oils that kills scabies.
This is extremely good news because both permethrin and ivermectin are toxic (non lethal, obviously) and not great to be putting on your skin or into your body. Of course it is a necessary evil to kill scabies, but if you are able to treat successfully with only tea tree oil that is a much more preferable option!
Based on the science we have available, clove oil is the best scabies treatment we have, period.
In some studies, it is shown to have a 100% kill rate. That is higher than any prescription cream or pill, or any other natural treatment.
This an extract from this study that was conducted in 2011:
“Contact with clove oil resulted in 100% mortality of permethrin-sensitive mites after 0.25 hours. Permethrin-resistant mites died at the same time but required higher concentrations (≥6.25%) of clove oil.”
The most impressive part about this is it also had the same success rate against permethrin resistant mites, which are the bane of any scabies sufferer.
This is enough evidence to me that clove oil should be central to any scabies treatment and you should be using as often as is safely possible (I’ll talk about how to do this below).
One thing you’ll notice about clove oil, however, is that it is a very potent oil with the potential to burn skin quite easily. If using it on kids, you need to be very careful, and even on adults.
Never use it bare, and always mix it with a soothing and safe carrier oil.
Palmarosa oil is extracted from the palmarosa plant. These plants are usually found in India and the South Asian continent.
Not many people have tried or even heard about palmarosa oil, but it’s one of the most effective scabies treatments we have.
Here’s a study that was done in 2016. It tested 10 different essential oils against scabies (most of them were ineffective) but the two that came out as viable essential oils for scabies were clove and palmarosa:
“The present study demonstrated that several essential oils (except cade oil) have both contact and fumigant effects against S. scabiei var. suis. Essential oils, especially tea tree, clove (for both fumigant and contact use), eucalyptus (for fumigant use), and palmarosa (for contact use), should be considered as complementary or alternative therapies to chemical acaricides in the treatment of S. scabiei infections, as well as in the environmental control of the mites.“
As you can see, tea tree oil was also considered a promising treatment in that study.
You may have noticed eucalyptus oil was also mentioned in the study cited above as one of the essential oils that kills scabies.
This is fantastic news as, if you’re an essential oils lover, you’ll know eucalyptus oil is one of the most useful ones out there.
It comes from the eucalyptus tree which is originally native to Australia (although these days you find it on almost every continent. And of course, eucalyptus has been a favourite in home remedies for generations.
This means you can absolutely use eucalyptus oil for scabies treatment, and should see good results.
How do you use essential oils for scabies treatment?
Using essential oils for scabies is not as simple as just rubbing them onto the skin.
Clove oil especially is a very strong essential oil and is known to burn sensitive skin. It’s also not recommended to use large amounts of tea tree oil bare on the skin.
There it’s best to use a carrier oil.
Carrier oils are gentle, soothing oils that you can use in larger amounts on the skin. Mixing your essential oils into carrier oils will make them less harsh on the skin but will not interrupt the effectiveness of them.
The carrier oil I recommend is coconut oil, but jojoba oil, emu oil or even olive oil can be used as carrier oils.
Once you have your carrier oil, mix your tea tree oil, clove oil and palmarosa oil into it to make an oil you can use over your whole body. Think of it like a moisturizer mixed with a massage oil.
In places where the itch is especially troublesome and intense, you can use a higher concentration of essential oils.
How much should you use?
It changes from person to person. I would start slow, such as one drop per tablespoon of carrier oil. If you don’t have an adverse reaction, you can increase it. You want it to be as potent as possible, but also safe.
The best way to use essential oils for scabies
The way I used essential oils for scabies was to combine them with as many other treatments as possible.
Scabies are extremely resilient. They have been around for millenniums, and we still cannot eradicate them. They are like cockroaches. They survive anything!
Therefore you want to hit them with as much as humanly possible. Every effective essential oil, every prescription drug, every natural home remedy you can find.
That’s exactly what I did and I cured my scabies within a month.
To help everyone out there suffering from scabies, I started this site and wrote a 3,000 word guide that explains everything I did. All the treatments, exactly how to mix them and use them, where to get them from, and how to apply your treatment on a day to day basis.
Of course the guide is totally free and you can read it here.
Really hope this helps all of you and best of luck with your treatment!