The following article outlines the treatment of scabies with tea tree oil and also offers some practical advice on whether this is the best main form of treatment for the condition.
What is Scabies?
Scabies is caused by a tiny, 0.3- 0.4 mm long eight legged mite called 'Sarcoptes scabei'. The female will pass across through physical contact from one human to another and then burrow into the skin to lay eggs. The hatched mites will then surface and mate and repeat the cycle on their current host or a new one (by being passed on to another human).
The faeces of the mites cause the intense itching and small red lumps that may become dry and scaly and inflamed which characterizes the condition (often called 'itching mites' disease). This itching is particularly noticeable around the creases off the skin eg upper legs, stomach, wrist creases, around nipples, waist/belt line and between the fingers.It is often very distressing and noticeably worse at night where itching usually prevents sleep.
If left untreated, the condition will not heal itself and will worsen which can lead to complications like impetigo (skin infection with bacteria), cellulitis and crusted scabies (usually occurs due to re-infestation). It is a contagious condition also so can easily be passed on to to other people mainly through physical contact.
It is important to note that even if the mites responsible for causing scabies are killed, their bodies remain in the skin layers and they still produce irritation and allergic reactions for several weeks after the mites have been killed.
How does tea Tree Oil benefit the condition?
Tea tree oil is a traditional Aboriginal medicine used for treating cuts, bruises and infection. It is a completely natural substance and constitutes a unique blend of a variety of active ingredients, some of which have not been found in any other plant.
The oil is removed from the leaves and it contains a substance called terpinen-4-ol which is believed to kill the scabies parasite and eggs as well as soothe the itching.
The oil penetrates into the lower skin layers with its anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, pain-killing and wound-healing qualities.
How do you use Tea Tree Oil for Scabies?
An important aspect is making sure you use a good quality 100% tea tree oil for this treatment. Poor quality oil will not be as effective.
1. Add 10-20 drops of premium-quality pure tea tree oil to a bathtub of warm water. Bathe 1-2x a day in a tea tree oil bath.
2. Apply it neat to the itching areas with a cotton bud morning and night.
3. Wash all bedding and clothes in a hot wash and leave to dry naturally or in a hot dryer. Clothing that has not been worn in the last 5 days should be okay as the parasites are not believed to be able to live without human contact for this period of time.
4. Treatment of the skin should continue for 2-3 weeks.
5. The whole family and even close friends should also be treated with tea tree oil baths at the same time to avoid re-infestation and passing on the parasites.
6. If there is no noticeable improvement within 10 days it is advisable to consult your doctor.
7. Animals will not develop the human form of scabies (their own equivalent is called 'mange')though it is possible they may cause the parasite to transfer back to a person so you may wish to wash them also.
Note: Tea Tree Oil can cause irritation on sensitive skin.
It is important to remember that scabies is an extremely itchy and distressing parasitic invasion. Whereas a complete treatment plan has been given above the cure of scabies using tea tree oil can not be considered as proved At the time of writing. It should also be noted that natural treatments like the one given above work slower than conventional medicine and chemicals and this knowledge combined with the distress of having a parasitic invasion and the fact that scabies is a 'contagious' disorder (IE you can pass it on easily through physical contact or through bed linen, clothing, other materials etc)it may be in your best interest to see a doctor for western medication which will kill the mites within this time leaving you non- contagious. Though itching will continue for several weeks as the mites die under the skin and become a foreign object which the body fights to destroy. Coincidentally Teat Tree oil can be used to lessen the itching and irritation after Western treatment.
1. Walton.S (2004), Acaricidal Activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil, Archives of Dermatology, 2004;140:563-566.
3. Australian Tea Tree Oil-Product Safety and recent progress in Research and Development, Thursday Plantation Laboratories Limited, New South Wales, Australia.
4. Maguire, J (1997), Ectoparasite Infestations and Arthropod Bites and Stings, In Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine.
4. Thursday Plantation. http://www.thursdayplantation.com.
5. dermnetnz.org (site written for doctors but simple enough for the rest of us to understand).