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Q: Dear Dr. Power, I have read there are several essential oils that can be used to treat scabies. The most common being Rosemary, Lavender, Spearmint, and Bergamot essential oils. How should those oils be used to treat scabies and does it kill the eggs and end the cycle? I am a massage therapist and many of my clients have recently been exposed to scabies, so I am wanting to use some of these oils for massage. Will it help? Thank you, M. H.
A: Thank you for your interest in aromatherapy and essential oils. Scabies, as you know, is caused by a mite and is very contagious. The mites live in sheep and those who work with sheep or raw wool are susceptible, as is anyone who is exposed through human contact. Here is an approach recommended in Patricia Davis' book:
"Make an oil to apply to affected areas by adding 4 drops Peppermint essential oil and 4 drops Lavender essential oil to a teaspoon of vegetable (carrier) oil (such as sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil) - you can apply up to 2 teaspoons of this formula at a time."
This is a stronger concentration of essential oils than is usually used in aromatherapy, so do a patch test first to make sure there is no skin reaction. Apply to all itching areas at least twice a day, preferably after a bath. It will be more effective against scabies if 2 drops Lavender and 2 drops Rosemary are mixed in a teaspoon of milk and added to the bath also. This may eventually kill the mites.
The mites live in clothing, towels, sheets, etc. and some unfortunate people have had to destroy all of these things and start over to rid themselves of these pests. At the very least, everything that can be washed must be washed, preferably at a high temperature. A solution of White Camphor and Lavender essential oils should be mixed in alcohol (5% white camphor, 5% lavender and 90% alcohol) and sprayed on mattresses, pillows, couches, etc. (Be careful-- I can't guarantee that it won't stain fabrics). Be careful not to inhale this mixture while spraying (wear a mask) and let things air out afterwards as camphor is somewhat toxic.
Once the mites are gone, the skin may be dry and blotchy. Lavender, Myrrh and Neroli essential oils in a carrier oil with a little tamanu or rosehip oil added (not more than 5%) will help. Mix essential oils for this purpose at a dilution of 2 drops essential oil per teaspoon of carrier (vegetable) oil.
Note: Neem can also be very effective for scabies. Click here for some good information on using Neem oil for both treatment and prevention.