Monday, July 09, 2012

My battle with scabies

If you don't know what scabies are, count your blessings!  Scabies are microscopic mites that burrow under your skin.  I am sure you can read all about them on the web, so I won't go into detail about their habits and what not.  I plan on telling you how I got rid of them :-)  It has been nine months or so now since I had to deal with them.  It is supposed to be only transmittable through close contact.  The only place I can think I may have picked them up would have been during my physical therapy sessions, back when I broke my knee.  I started with an itchy patch over my belly button.  Not very annoying.  Sometimes it itched, other times it didn't. I think it took a bit before a rash developed.  By that point I thought I may have picked up some poison ivy.  I've only had poison ivy once before and it kind of has that same intense itch.  I had scratched so much that any poison ivy blisters would have been wiped out!  Finally the itching started to go away.  But then I got an itchy patch below my belly button.  Huh?  I really couldn't figure it out, and since it was a small patch I thought I would wait it out.  No sense going to a doctor for a wee little rash.  Thankfully (but also very unthankfully) we had done battle years prior to this episode with scabies.  So when the wee little rash started to go away, but then days later I broke out with the same rash all over my stomach I *knew* what I was finally up against.  Scabies!! 

Having gone through this before I knew a few things up front.  One, I did not want to have to rub us all down, head to foot, with an insecticide (yes, that is what the cream the doctors give you is!).  Two, I was going to be up to my eyeballs with laundry and vacuuming.  Commence crying.  And cry I did!!  In that first week of realizing what I had on my hands (or more specifically my belly :-)) I tried a few things like aloe and some essential oils, all things I had on hand.  I will say that the eucalyptus oil helped the itching...for the first night.  But then...THEN to make up for the decent night of sleep I got that first night I was up with itching 10 times worse than before!!!  It was that night I spent hours online trying to find a natural remedy.  I bought this e-book all about scabies.  I think it was called "The Scabies Report".  I am very thankful it had a money back guarantee.  It promised to give you all the info you needed to get rid of the scabies, and for good.  It said that it would lay out exactly what you needed to do step by step.  Um, not exactly.  They gave you a list of things that may help.  Most were to help with the itching, some to kill the buggies and others what needed to be done with your surroundings. This was not a step by step list!!!  It was all a mish mash in random order.  Not to mention I had already read all of this same info online myself.  I only bought the book because I was desperate to find a step by step method to get rid of the itching madness!  I got my money back, and decided I was going to have to come up with  my own plan.  Below is the plan I followed.  I can not take any blame if it does not work for you.  Everyone needs to do their own research.  I read a lot of people trying some of the things I did and saying it didn't work.  I believe I know why, which I will state below.  Here is my step by step plan of what *I DID* to rid myself and house of the scabies.

1. ALL bedding and clothing recently worn, or laying out was put into plastic bags and laundered.  I had them in plastic bags because with JUST our bedding alone, that took 5 loads of laundry.  That is *5 LOADS* of laundry EVERY DAY....JUST for our bedding.  Never mind the clothing that nine of us make and towels and such.  Now you can see why I cried!!  Anything that could not be washed but was made of fabric was put into plastic garbage bags and tied tightly.  I either stored them in closets or in the attic.  We have free standing back cushions on some of our couches and I bagged those as well.  All of the non washable items need to stay in bags for at least three weeks.

2.  I vacuumed all mattresses and couches.  On all mattresses I sprinkled diatamatious earth (de) over them.  Make sure to wear a mask!!  Although de is non toxic, as long as you have the food grade, it can irritate eyes and lungs.  I sprinkled the de on the couches and carpets as well.  The scabies can fall/crawl off of you and get on your couches and carpets and such, although more likely on your bedding and clothing.  Still, trust me you don't want to have to do this all over again, so I made sure to hit it all!  That night I vacuumed up the de from the mattresses.  It still leaves a coating behind.  I got lazy later on and decided to only vacuum the de up once a week.  With a mattress cover or sheet I was not worried about breathing in the de. 

3.  I made up a coconut oil/tea tree oil concoction.  I think I used about 60 drops of tea tree oil to about one cup of coconut oil.  I put this on during the morning, and afternoon.  I put this from my hair line, all the way to the bottom of my feet.  You do not need to worry about your face or hair.  You have to realize that it takes 2 to 4 weeks for the rash to turn up where the scabies were.  By the time you see the rash the scabies have moved on to the surrounding skin.  This is one area I think people failed in with using the natural products.  Not to mention that your skin will continue to react for a few more weeks AFTER the bugs are all dead!  Yes, maddening, but true.  I made sure to put pure tea tree oil on the actual rash site and surrounding areas.

4.  Every night I took a hot bath with 20 drops of tea tree oil in the water.  Please put the drops in AFTER you get in the tub, and make sure to really swirl around.

5.  After my evening bath I put on another concoction.  You will want to make sure to wear only old clothing, or clothing you don't mind being stained yellow forever.  It was a concoction of coconut oil and turmeric powder.  I just made this up until the powder was a loose paste.  I applied it all over like the coconut oil/tea tree blend.  Let it dry and then put on pj's.  Your pj's and bedding will be stained yellow.  So I just made sure to wear the same pj's (they had to be laundered every day anyways) and same bedding, again they were laundered every day.

6.  Repeat all the above steps daily (or in the case of the de, weekly) for at least 4 weeks.  I think I did this for 6 weeks.  It took that long before my rashes all went away.  That means that I probably only needed to do this for 4 weeks, but hey desperate times call for desperate measures. 

7.  I bought a sulfur powder, that I had to order from the pharmacy.  I was getting really, really tired of that itchy patch on my tummy.  By this time I knew the bugs were probably all dead, but your body still reacts to them being there, under your skin.  That is why it takes weeks for the itching to stop.  You are waiting for the skin to shed, and along with it the bugs before your body stops reacting.  I had read about these sulfur based products but they were all 'not intended for pregnant or nursing women'.  I was nursing at the time.  But *plain* sulfur is fine.  You need to make a mix of I believe 10% to what ever base you plan on using.  I do not remember now what that means in actual measurements.  Ask your pharmacist about the exact measurements.  Sulfur works by drying your skin, and making it slough off sooner.  It is also supposed to dry up the bugs if they are still alive.  I suppose had I know about this I would have gone with it first!  But I didn't.  I ended up not using it for various reasons.  I will have it on hand should, God forbid, we come up against this creepy crawly foe again!

Although I do not wish this bug on my worst enemy, if you are suffering I hope this will be of some help. 

As a side note I talked with the pharmacist about the available products out there (all prescription).  He agreed with my reading, that a lot of the scabies are immune to the most common prescribed treatment.  He said though, that there are two other newer products out there.  I think one of them works by suffocating the scabies.  I think it was much less  toxic than the other stuff.  I don't remember right now.  But what I do remember was that because it was new he said that most insurances, like mine, would not cover it, and it's very expensive.  You have to realize that you need to treat all family members. A very expensive prescription for 9 people?????  I don't think so!!  Also, as far as treating all family members I only put the coconut oil/tea tree blend on everyone for about 3 or 4 weeks.

DISCLAIMER:  Again, I am not a doctor or medical professional.  I came up with the above information based on the reading I did on the internet.  This is the plan I personally followed and can't promise it will help you.  Please talk with your qualified health care professional before making any decisions.

10 comments:

Kenneth Harlow said...

I have a large brood and am dealing with the second round with the bugs in a year. Our high schooler got scabies last fall, before Thanksgiving. They showed up again in two of the younger boys a couple of weeks ago. Those two share a bed. The seven year old, who is allergic to mosquitoes and prone to skin sensitivities, is so itchy! God bless him! I homeschool all the kids but the one in high school, so we have a lot in common. I'm not sure if this resurgence is from residual scabies after the first round or if it came into the house again some other way. The high schooler is the only person in the family with his own room, so I hoped I didn't need to sanitize the whole house. I have no idea how I'm going to get it all cleaned/washed. Time to cry, I guess. :-/

Kenneth Harlow said...

I have a large brood and am dealing with the second round with the bugs in a year. Our high schooler got scabies last fall, before Thanksgiving. They showed up again in two of the younger boys a couple of weeks ago. Those two share a bed. The seven year old, who is allergic to mosquitoes and prone to skin sensitivities, is so itchy! God bless him! I homeschool all the kids but the one in high school, so we have a lot in common. I'm not sure if this resurgence is from residual scabies after the first round or if it came into the house again some other way. The high schooler is the only person in the family with his own room, so I hoped I didn't need to sanitize the whole house. I have no idea how I'm going to get it all cleaned/washed. Time to cry, I guess. :-/

The Southern Peach-Girls said...

Oh my! I am so sorry to hear about this! You might find that about a year after we faced this battle (about 3 months after this post) my one daughter who had previously gotten this came down with a possible case of it. It is hard to tell, as I got on top of it QUICK! I did not go through all these steps with her though, as when you've already had the scabies the rash only takes a couple of days to pop up, as opposed of a first time exposure, which takes 2 to 4 weeks before a rash pop ups. So I knew this was recent, and that there were very few scabies present. I did the tea tree oil directly on her rash and immediate surrounding areas, then the coconut/tea tree oil all over. I applied that at least 4 times daily. I also put the DE on her and her sister's bed (they share a room), and washed their bedding daily for the first few days, then once a week after that. I also applied the DE to our couches and vacuumed them later in the day. Thankfully this second round was very short lived.

I would definitely 'treat' both boys who share the bed, but do know that even though I had the scabies up to 6 to 8 weeks before I knew I had them (remember the first 2 to 4 weeks there is no sign of them), my nursing son, in contact with me multiple times daily....right at my tummy, never got them, nor did my husband. But, you obviously don't want to treat one, then weeks later find the other one did catch the little critters!

Good luck to you!

Blessings,
Kerri

Jonathan said...

Hi! I am a homeschool mom of 4 and am in the middle of a 10 week battle with scabies. It has been such a hardship but I don't need to tell that to you! I have tried prescription creams but they keep returning and I refuse to keep slathering my 10 month old in those creams. =( We have been doing the tea tree and coconut oil daily for over a week now but I wanted to ask if you had new bumps and runs and rashes appear during the time of your treatment? I don't have many at all but I have some new red bumps (maybe 10 total?) that are very small and I wondered if that means that the tea tree won't work for me. I know you can't give advice but I thought I would check with you to see if you had new red bumps during the 6 weeks of treatment. Any help would be greatly appreciated. We had to leave our church for 2 months and it has been such a difficult trial. Thank you in advance. Kimberly

The Southern Peach-Girls said...

Hi Kimberly!

Oh my heart goes out to you!! I am so sorry you are battling this.

Before I write, let me just preface this, I don't think you need to hear it, but for anyone else that may come along and read this.... I am just a mom, I have no medical training and what I am going to write is meant to be taken as information only. What you do with that information is totally up to you :-)

I know I got some new rashes a few weeks out, I don't remember how far out after starting my routine. Your body can take up to 4 weeks to show a rash when it comes in contact with the little critters. Since you have been battling this for quite some time I think you need to look at doing the "whole shebang". I am so grateful for natural remedies, however you usually have to take either a multi-tiered approach, or you have to be extremely diligent to follow through.

The good news is that if you only have the 10 bumps it sounds like you are getting on top of things. It is really important that you stick to 'doing it all' during this time. I think you said you are doing the tea tree and oil...I personally put straight tea tree on any area with bumps, and a few inches around. The bugs have moved on to the skin next to the bumps by the time you see the bumps. So I put straight tea tree on the bumps and a few inches around, and then put the tea tree/coconut oil on the rest of my body. I would make sure to keep on top of the laundry, doing bedding daily. Have you been treating everyone in the house during this time? It is possible for someone to be carrying a few of them around, but are not as tasty, so they commute over to you. Also I would make sure to use diatomaceous earth on all mattresses, couches, and rugs. Be very careful with this if you use it. Do your research! The dust is harmless to humans, but it can cause eye or lung irritation if you breathe it in. But this is supposed to kill off any critter who have jumped off of you (and they don't actually jump, but I think you know what I mean). I put the DE down in the early AM, and vacuumed it up later that night. There will be a fine coating left behind, which will help to stay in place for a time to keep killing off the bugs. I remember that I also used a turmeric/neem oil/coconut mixture on my skin as well. This stuff will stain anything it touches, which includes your skin! Thankfully it will wash off your skin in time, but not from clothing....just and fyi. If all else failed I had a backup plan, which included going to the pharmacy to get a special order for some sulfur powder. Again, do your research on it, and talk to a pharmacist for dosage (we have an awesome family owned pharmacy here that really takes their time to help us out!). The idea behind the sulfur is that it will dry out your skin, making it inhabitable to the bugs. I never personally tried it, but have read about it. I bought the sulfur so let me know if you want the brand I bought. Again, I didn't need to use it, but if you are interested I can get that info to you.

It is a lot of work! I thought it would never end :-) But it does, it really does! Also, it may be impossible to know where you picked this up, but it may be worth thinking about so you can avoid it again. For me, since I had been housebound with a broken knee, the only place I had gone that I could have gotten it from was the therapy place I went for rehab. I only had a couple of more sessions left, so I decided to not go back. But, the first time we dealt with this, years before, my 2 yo dd got it and there was no way to figure out where she picked it up.

I hope you are able to beat this quickly. Keep persevering.

Blessings,
Kerri

Jonathan said...

Hi Kerri! Thank you so much for your response! We have almost hit the 4 week mark of doing your combination of treatment and we are almost all totally clear! Praise the Lord!! We have had it now for 3 months so I am sure that we will do the full 6 weeks at least but we are almost there! We just did the coconut mixture two times per day instead of adding in the coconut, neem and tumeric but about a week ago we added in that mixture at night and have seem more results so we are doing that now as well. I just mixed the oils and tumeric in equal parts which is pretty strong so I wanted to see if you remember what proportions you mixed your neem oil and coconut oil and turmeric? I also have a ten month old baby and I have been putting a baby version strength of the tea tree oil and lavender but I was wondering if you did any of your treatments of your baby? He is clearing up very well and only has a few bumps on his stomach that come and go (possibly allergies) but whenever I stop doing the coconut mixture he starts to break out so I need to keep it up for a few more weeks I think. I just wanted to thank you incredibly for sharing this post because we are almost back to normal life again and after 3 months I can't tell you what a gift that is!! We actually had to use the permethrin cream once which was devastating for me to rub that all over my baby and it didn't even work for us. I prayed that we wouldn't have to keep treating with that because that is the only option that our dr. gave us and I couldn't imagine going through it over and over again and I consider your treatment a huge answer to prayer. Thank you for your time and your incredible help to our family! Much love from Michigan!
Kimberly

The Southern Peach-Girls said...

Kimberly,
I am so sorry I did not see this comment until today! I hope you guys are all cleared up now.

I don't remember the proportions of tumeric and coconut oil. I just used enough oil to make a thin paste that I could apply to my skin that would stick. Sorry. I did put some very diluted tea tree oil and diluted neem oil on the baby for a bit. He never got any bumps so I discontinued that after a short time.

As for the duration of treatment I made sure to continue for two weeks post any symptoms. I remember having been at this a few weeks and saw new bumps. I thought I was going to pull my hair out! But my sister ( a nurse) told me that it takes a couple of weeks for the bumps to appear once you are 'bit'. So long as that area doesn't keep growing that probably means you were bit a few weeks ago, the treatment killed them off, but it is taking your body some time to show the allergic reaction to those weeks old bites. (they are not bites, it is actually their waste products that cause a reaction under our skin)

Let me know how you are all doing.

Blessings,
Kerri

kram195 said...

SCABIES DOES GET INTO YOUR HAIR/HEAD!! YOU MUST TREAT THIS TOO!!

Leslie London said...

I've battle scabies off and on for 20 years. Finally found tea tree oil and witch hazel. Rub down with one in the morning , one at night. Scabies are GONE.

The Southern Peach-Girls said...

Thank you Leslie! Always love adding to our arsenal of options. We just got finishing up ANOTHER round of these bugs just this past month (4 years after writing this post!). Our youngest at the time of this writing came down with them a couple of months ago. I did my 'protocol' and it was getting better, but it was very, very, VERY slow. Our dog had mange, so I am thinking it was from her. I got some 'old timer' stuff at the feed store (just sulfur and pine oil), and WOW! Cleared up lickety split!!!! I will keep your routine on file....should we ever deal with these critters again. Though I am hoping not!!!

Blessings,
Kerri

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