In Latin, scabies means itch, and boy does it ever. Scabies is a tiny mite that burrows under your skin to lay its eggs. It leaves tiny z-shaped tracks beneath your skin as it zigzags back and forth, tunnelling and making new little mite-lings. You can pick it up from another person's clothing, bedding, towels or close contact. It is sexually transmitted and you can get it from your pets. Anywhere people are close together--camping, going to school or in medical facilities--this opportunistic little bug can spread.
Doctors can prescribe permethrin (Elimite and Acticin) or crotamiton (Eurax), which kill mites quickly, although itching may persist for weeks. There are over-the-counter formulations of permethrin available in creams or lotions. Apply the medication all over your body from the neck down and leave it on for at least 8 hours. If the over-the-counter preparations don't work, your doctor can prescribe oral medications or high strength scabicide formulations of ointments and creams
Wash all clothing, linens, towels, bedding. Cleaned clothing you've worn while infested should be sealed for two weeks in airtight plastic bags. Vacuum floors and furniture. Put pillows in a trash bag and use a vacuum hose to suck all the air out. Repeat several times, collapsing the bag to a solid mass. Put hairbrushes, combs, and toys kids have played with into very hot soapy water, soak and scrub. Air dry.
Antihistamines like benadryl and Calamine lotion can give patients relief from itching, rashes and irritation. Soaking in a cool tub or applying cool towels can also help. Several tree oils act as natural insecticides, which have been reported effective with scabies mites. Tamanu oil has antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal qualities, as does neem oil and alantolactone in elecampane. These oils can be obtained in stores that sell herbal and natural remedies. Pungent oils like lavender, tea tree, clove oil and geranium oil are also reportedly effective with scabies and head lice and are safe for children.