Managing Scabies at Home: Natural Remedies and Prevention Tips


A man reaches behind his neck and scratches at a scabies rash.
Highlights
  • Scabies, a condition when tiny mites burrow into the skin and cause a pimple-like itchy rash, are typically transmitted through sexual contact.

  • Prescription medications are the first choice for treating scabies, but over-the-counter (OTC) medication and home remedies can help soothe the rash and itchiness.

  • Deep cleaning your home, washing clothes in hot water, and avoiding close contact with infested surfaces can help prevent the spread of scabies.

What are Scabies?

Scabies develop when tiny mites — called Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis — burrow into the skin, causing a pimple-like itchy rash.

Usually, the rash starts in skin folds — between fingers, inside the elbows, and in the armpits. The infection often stops at the jawline. Only infants and young children can experience a scabies rash on their faces and scalp.

Scabies is typically transmitted during sexual or prolonged skin contact. Scabies spreads quickly in crowded places, such as nursing homes, childcare facilities, and prisons.

Home Remedies to Manage Scabies Symptoms

Although prescription medication is the most effective way to treat scabies, over-the-counter (OTC) and natural home remedies can help relieve the itchy rash.

While these treatments are generally safe, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before using home remedies for scabies.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications

Your doctor may recommend antihistamines, pramoxine lotion, or steroid creams to alleviate scabies itching. Like with all medications, side effects may occur.

Benzyl benzoate is mainly used as an OTC scabies treatment in developing countries. It’s also available in the U.S. without a prescription.

While it can be an effective additional treatment for crusted scabies — a severe form of scabies infestation — benzyl benzoate may cause allergic reactions.

A tea tree oil bottle with dropper.

Tea tree oil

Some reports suggest tea tree oil can kill mites, but not scabies eggs. That being said, this essential oil can provide relief from a scabies rash and itching.

Clove oil

Clove oil numbs the skin and alleviates itching. It can also kill or slow the spread of bacteria, allowing the skin to heal from a scabies infestation.

Key Point: How Do I Use Essential Oils for Treating Scabies?

Mix a few drops of tea tree oil or clove oil with a carrier, such as coconut oil, and then apply it to the affected area of your skin.

Neem oil

Lightly dab the affected area with neem oil on a cotton pad to ease redness and itching caused by a scabies rash.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera gel or cream has a soothing effect and can relieve the itchiness of a scabies infestation. It also helps fight inflammation and bacterial infections.

Oatmeal or baking soda bath

Fill your bathtub with lukewarm water and add about one cup of colloidal oatmeal or ordinary baking soda. Then soak your body for about 15 minutes.

This will help reduce inflammation and calm any severe itching caused by scabies.

Other scabies home remedies

Many topical home remedies may help ease scabies symptoms, like coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and cayenne pepper.

Before applying natural or home remedies to your skin, do a patch test to check if you have a negative reaction.

There is no scientific evidence that home remedies cure scabies. However, they can help to relieve the symptoms and may be effective when used alongside prescription medications.

A woman stands in her living room and holds a vacuum cleaner on a carpet.

How to Clean Your Home to Prevent the Spread of Scabies

When you start your prescription scabies treatment, it’s important to clean your living spaces and avoid skin-to-skin contact with others.

Wash your clothes, towels, and linen in hot water, and dry them using the hot cycle. Store the items you can’t wash in sealed plastic bags for about one week.

After vacuuming the carpets and furniture, throw away the vacuum bag. You don’t need to fumigate your home. You also don’t need to treat your pets, since human scabies mites cannot live on animals.

Avoid sexual and close contact with others until you have completed your treatment, and don’t share clothes, towels, or bedding.

Your sexual partners and family members should also be treated for scabies, even if they don’t have symptoms. This prevents re-infestations and can stop the spread of the skin condition.

When Should I See a Healthcare Provider?

If you’ve been in close contact with someone infested with scabies, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

A doctor will typically prescribe permethrin cream, sulfur cream, or ivermectin pills for treating scabies.

These medications kill mites and eggs quickly, but itching may last for between two to four weeks.

If you still experience the following symptoms once you have completed your treatment, see a health care provider:

  • Medication side effects

  • A new rash or burrow lines (these can be raised or crooked) on your skin

  • Persistent rash or itching a month after the treatment

  • Signs of secondary infection such as sores or pus discharge

Where Can I Learn More About Scabies and Other STDs?

If you’re dealing with a scabies infestation or suspect you may have contracted an STD, you can schedule a virtual appointment with a board-certified doctor or nurse practitioner from the comfort of your home.

Head over to LifeMD to make a telehealth booking.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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