If you’ve ever experienced the relentless itching that comes with a scabies infection, you’ll know it’s no small mosquito bite matter. There are about 1 million scabies cases in the United States alone each year, and the individuals affected cannot be isolated by gender, class, income, or personal hygiene habits. Scabies is a contagious disease caused by itch mites. The persistent itching is accompanied by rashes, blisters, pimple-like formations, pain, and redness.
Itch mites are parasites that dig into the skin, where they lay their eggs. When the eggs hatch, the larvae start to crawl to the surface of the skin. This not only worsens symptoms but puts an individual affected at risk of the symptoms spreading. The itchiness is caused by an allergic reaction in the skin to the mites.
Here are 10 highly effective ways of ridding yourself and your home of these pesky pests.
1. Wash Your Clothing And Pets Thoroughly
The first sensible must-do point of action is to rid, not only yourself but the surroundings of these mites. They are invisible to the naked eye and can and do spread from you, the human host, to their surroundings. Mites cannot survive for longer than 36 hours without their human hosts – however, the problem lies in reinfection.
The mites on your dog will cause mange not scabies and just as you cannot get mange, your dog cannot get scabies – but it can survive on your pet for a while and burrow back into your skin at the first opportunity when you make contact with your dog or the mite-infested couch.
Your clothes, curtains, and linen need to be washed in a hot temperature of the water as possible, and then either air dries them or put them in a hot dryer to kill the mites. A study has shown that hot, dry heat of over 50 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes will kill the mites. For safety’s sake, use a 30-minute or longer drying cycle. Use a disinfectant in the water if possible.
2. Apply A Mite-Killing Solution to Car Seats, Cloth Furniture And Rugs
It is not a given that the scabies mites will spread to or survive on cloth furniture, rugs, or your car seats but err on the side of safety is always the best – and cleaning your office chair is recommended, too. As a standard procedure, you should vacuum your carpets and rugs.
Use a permethrin spray intended for clothing specifically, and, if you can, spray this on the rugs and carpets and leave them to air dry. Sunlight decreases the effectiveness of the spray so if the smell irritates you, move the rugs to the garage or one isolated room if possible.
A deep vacuum or steam clean is effective in most cases though. For other cloth furniture such as your car chair, spray the surface area until it’s soggy or wet, and allow it to air dry. Cats, fish, and bees should not have contact with permethrin when it’s wet as the non-dry form is toxic to them.
3. De-Mite Mattresses
One of the reasons scabies is so contagious is its high reinfestation rate. Scabies mites can survive comfortably in your mattress for up to 72 hours. The first thing you can do is vacuum your mattress, on both sides. It goes without saying that the linen should be changed every day, having been washed and dried at a high temperature. Also, place your pillowcases in a hot dryer for one hour every day.
Repeat the vacuuming at least every three days, with every day being optimal. The permethrin lotion you are likely to be using on your skin will kill the mites but not their eggs, which may land on the mattress and hatch. Place plastic sheet coverings on the mattress to prevent reinfestation of your linen. Wipe the plastic covering with permethrin spray and leave it to dry, but not in sunlight. You should also spray both sides of your mattress with permethrin, an effective pesticide.
4. Use 5% Permethrin Lotion
Permethrin is a pesticide that can be bought without a prescription. Sometimes, in its pure form, the cream is very expensive. It is a topical cream that is known to and highly effective at killing scabies mites. If the cream is too expensive, or if for some reason you need a doctor’s prescription, you can make your own. Simply buy a 10% permethrin product first on a site such as Amazon. The 10% strength is used for kennels, swine houses, and in industry.
In no circumstances should it be used as-is on your skin? Look for a permethrin formulation that does not say ‘Contains petroleum distillates’ or anything similar on the label. Petroleum distillates tend to irritate the skin. Take half the 10% concentrate and simply mix it with an equal amount of skin lotion to obtain a large amount of 5% permethrin skin cream. Test it for at least 48 hrs before applying all over your body.
5. Sulfur Lotion
Sulfur lotion not only relieves your itching but kills the scabies mites as well. Sulfur does tend to dehydrate your skin, but this is nothing that can’t be solved with a good natural oil or moisturizer. You can order sulfur online as it is readily available.
To make a lotion, mix your sulfur concentrated ointment with baby lotion, a pH-neutral lotion, or an otherwise mild or natural lotion. One of the sulfur ointments most commonly used is NuStcock sulfur ointment. It does not have an overpowering sulfuric smell, but it does have an aroma.
NuStock is made up of 2% pine oil, 73% sulfur, and 25% mineral oil. The 73% sulfur content is considerably stronger than the 10% required to kill scabies, so do take care to mix it with another (mild) lotion. All hide is another product that is commonly used, and it contains 74% sulfur. If you’re treating a baby under 2 months old, mix the lotion down to a 5% concentration.
6. Eurax Cream
Eurax is a great alternative to sulfur lotion, but it does take slightly longer to be effective though. It is slightly more expensive but is also much more soothing to the skin than sulfur. Some people alternate Eurax and sulfur treatments.
The active ingredient in Eurax is 10% crotamiton. Crotamiton is more commonly used to relieve itching, for example in people who have hives, but it also happens to kill mites. If you’re allergic to it you may have a skin reaction, but this is rare and most people are left with softer skin.
You’ll need two ounces to cover your whole body with one application, but you’ll need at least two applications. Apply it on day one, then on day two from neck to toe. Do not wash it off in between applications, and leave it on without showering for another two days. This means you have four days in total in which you do not shower. Most people do not use Eurax instead of sulfur, but in between their sulfur regimen.
7. Benzyl Benzoate
Use a 25% concentration of benzyl benzoate for adults and a 12,5% strength formulation for children. You can order it from pharmacies online, but do note that it has many names including Benzylate or Ascabin. There is a 25% equine solution suitable for horses which you could also use, but test a small amount on yourself first.
Most 25% solutions contain the active ingredient, a preservative, and water. It is odorless and those who have used it report that their skin is cured or almost completely cured in under 12 hours. It relieves both the itch and kills the mites.
Do not use benzyl benzoate and permethrin simultaneously, but alternate between applications. Side effects are rare, but it is best to be aware that they do exist. The most common ones are burning or stinging sensations. You should not let it come into contact with your eyes, therefore, wash your hands thoroughly after an application.
If your case of scabies is not a mild or low-level one, it is a good idea to take ivermectin too. This is an internal remedy that is taken orally. Seven doses for over one month should cure your scabies. They are small, white pills with no smell and aftertaste, but you do need a doctor’s prescription.
If you can’t get an adequate prescription or any prescription at all, you may want to try the equine version which is available as a paste. One tube of the paste is used to treat a 1250-pound horse, so if you weigh 150 pounds, one tube will provide you with your eight doses. Do the calculations yourself.
The medicinal dose to take is 0.2 mg Ivermectin per kilogram (or 200 mg/kg) – use a kilogram to pounds converter to find out exactly how much you should use. Note that your body will absorb more than two-and-a-half times of much Ivermectin if you take if after you’ve eaten.
Some people who have tried moxidectin find it to be more effective than Ivermectin. It has not been approved for use in humans, although a 2016 study found that it worked in around-the-house animals with scabies-like symptoms. This trial was very promising – it was found that a single dose of moxidectin cured scabies quicker than two doses of Ivermectin. The former also stayed in the body almost ten times longer than Ivermectin.
It is thought that this factor alone accounts for why Moxidectin is more effective than Ivermectin – the Moxidectin is therefore in your system to combat the entire life cycle of the mite, its eggs, and its hatchlings whereas with Ivermectin a new dose is required for each stage of the lifecycle. Do not overdose on Moxidectin as this will come with its own adverse effects. One month after taking a single dose of Moxidectin, there will still be 50% of the ‘recommended’ dose in your system.
10. Lindane Lotion
This is usually only given to you if no other treatment has worked, or if you are having severe reactions to all of the other treatments. It is considered less safe than other treatments and certainly isn’t suitable for babies under 2 years old or those who are pregnant or nursing.
You should also weigh more than 110 pounds if you are to qualify for this treatment. It rids you of scabies by vanquishing both the mites and their eggs. Those under 2, who are slight of weight or who have psoriasis and certain other skin conditions are most likely to experience side effects, which can be seizures and even death.
Lindane is formulated as a lotion to be applied to your skin and shampoo with which to wash your scalp and hair. It is a single-dose formula, which means you will be given only one dose.