Go to page content
Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit

Scabies Treatments To Make Your Life Easier

In this article, we'll show you how to identify a scabies rash. Plus, these scabies treatments are a life-savor if you're suffering from intense skin itching.

Itching min scaled

Seeking out the best scabies treatments is nothing to be ashamed of. The condition may sound icky, but you may be surprised to learn that it’s actually quite common.

Scabies is an itchy, contagious skin rash that occurs due to a burrowing mite. Treatments involve killing the mites and their eggs as well as alleviating the intense itch that often accompanies it.

Read on to learn how to identify a scabies rash. Our experts also provide the best scabies treatments you can use right at home.

What Is Scabies?

Crusted scabies are highly contagious and may lead to a severe skin reaction.

The body’s immune response to the parasitic human itch mite called Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis causes scabies. Once infestation begins, it can take as long as four to eight weeks for the immune response to develop and for symptoms to appear. However, for someone with recurring scabies or who has had scabies before, symptoms may present within one to four days.

Crusted scabies (also known as “Norwegian scabies”) is the more severe and highly contagious form of this condition. It typically inflicts individuals with compromised immunity, resulting in the formation of thick crusts, housing thousands of mites and eggs.

Prolonged skin-to-skin contact can spread scabies as it allows the mites to jump from one human host to another. Therefore, crowded settings like nursing homes and day-care centers run the risk of an outbreak the moment there is even just one infested person.

How To Identify Scabies Symptoms

The primary symptoms of scabies are skin rashes and intense itching. The rash typically appears around skin folds between the fingers, wrists, inside the elbows and knees, under the breasts and nipples, genitals, and other parts of the body.

In young children, scabies rash may also appear in the soles of the feet, palms, and scalp. When examined carefully, the tunnels created by the mite appear as thin raised irregular lines.

Itching due to scabies gets worse at night. Intense and vigorous scratching often leads to further inflammation, breaking the skin and increasing the risk for skin infections.

If left untreated, scabies can lead to serious complications, such as a rare kidney disease known as post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (PSGN) as well as rheumatic heart disease. Additionally, impetigo is a common secondary bacterial infection that can lead to kidney and heart disease.

You can mistake scabies rash for other skin conditions, such as bed bugs, eczema, or psoriasis, so it’s important to get a clear confirmation. Diagnosis of scabies is usually through observation of the symptoms such as the rash, itching, and appearance of burrows. Doctors will ask patients about activities in the past weeks to ascertain where they might have caught the parasite.

Scabies Treatments

Upon diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe medication that will kill the mites and their eggs. These scabies treatments, also called scabicides, are topical creams or ointments that contain permethrin, malathion, benzyl benzoate, lindane, crotamiton, or sulfur.

Patients must put the topical medicine all over the body, left on for the recommended amount of time, and then reapply as directed by a physician. Sometimes the physician may also prescribe the oral medication ivermectin. If a secondary bacterial infection is present, antibiotics will be part of the treatment as well. An infected person may also choose to take antihistamines to reduce the intense itching and help them sleep. 

Treatment doesn’t stop just with the infested person, however. The whole household or shared facility must ensure its contacts are also diagnosed and treated, especially those with known prolonged contact with the infected person. For example, bedding, towels, and clothing must be thoroughly washed.

Failure to seek treatment can greatly decrease the quality of life and can progress to the more severe crusted or Norwegian scabies, which is even more contagious. Untreated secondary bacterial infections can also be deadly and lead to other medical complications involving crucial organs, such as the kidney and heart. 

TCM Scabies Treatments

Lemongrass essential oil has soothing properties that may be suitable as a scabies treatment.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), skin disorders are usually a sign of the body’s inability to get rid of pathogens. With scabies, pathogens include mites, eggs, and fecal matter buried in the outer layers of the skin. Inflammation of the skin is a sign of heat, while wet, oozing pustules indicate dampness. Itching indicates Wind.

A well-known topical decoction for treating scabies is the Ku Shen Tang Gao, which consists of several different TCM herbs like Ku Shen (sophora root), She Chuang Zi (Cnidium fruit), and Di Fu Zi (Kochia fruit) that attack the parasitic pathogens as well as rebalance these excess elements.

Numerous studies have shown that these herbs provide anti-inflammatory and anti-itching relief for skin conditions such as scabies. The topical application of essential oils made from lemongrass could also be beneficial. You may also wish to use immunity-boosting supplements to help soothe your skin’s reaction to scabies.

According to registered TCM physician Kong, improving skin health following scabies requires maintaining a lighter diet. This includes the consumption of more fruits and vegetables as well as cooling foods. He also recommends avoiding alcohol, beer, and spices like chili.

What is scabies and how do you treat and prevent them? The best defense is of course avoiding infestation in the first place, so be sure to keep proper hygiene and maintain a healthy immune system to help fight any parasitic infestation. 

This is an adaptation of an article, “(Scabies),” which first appeared on the Health123 website.

Share this article on

Was This Article Useful to You?

Reviews (1)

Julie LawyerApr 08 2023

I had the misfortune of getting scabies when I did volunteer work preparing used bedding to be used for an animal organization. The bedding had been collected by a recycling firm and I guess they did not know it was infested. The scabies was very miserable but what is even more irritating is that here it is a year and a half since we had this and I still have related skin problems. Supposedly the scabies is cured but why do I have itchy bumps persisting on my arms and legs? I need something to get rid of this. I don’t think that we were given enough ivermectin to completely get rid of this because the doctors were having problems getting the prescriptions because they thought we were using it for covid which we were not. Where can a person get the TCM ointment for post scabies skin irriation? I tried googling it but hard to find it.

Want more healthy tips?

Get All Things Health in your mailbox today!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related Articles

Build strong immune system
General Health

How to Build a Strong Immune System

Whether you’re looking to fend off colds or simply aim to support your body’s natural defenses – these practical steps to enhancing your immune function are what you need for a stronger immune system.

Read More
Winter makes you sick min scaled
General Health

Does Cold Weather Make You Sick?

Cold weather makes your immune cells less effective at protecting you from viral infections. Learn more about keeping warm and supporting your immunity this winter.

Read More
Excessive sweating min scaled
General Health

Quiz: Find Out What's Causing Your Excessive Sweating

Staying cool is easier said than done. Excessive sweating can be triggered by several things. Find out what is the root cause and how you can stay dry and breezy.

Read More
Long happy life min scaled
General Health

5 Self Care Tips to Help You Live Longer

What does self care have to do with longevity? Your daily habits have great influence over how long you will live as well as the quality of life you'll have along the way. These tips can help.

Read More

The contents of the All Things Health website are for informational and educational purposes only.
Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.