Mites are small parasitic arachnids that prey on insects and feed on plants and animals, including humans. In humans, these microscopic bugs crawl beneath the skin causing scabies, an extremely itchy and contagious skin infection. Scabies mites lay eggs under the skin and feed on skin and secretions. They may go unnoticed until the skin becomes irritated and starts to itch.
Scabies mites tend to show up in creases or folds in the skin such as under the breasts, in the groin area, on the wrists, behind the knees and in between the webbing of fingers. Signs of scabies include small blisters, a pimple-like rash and intense itching in the affected area. Mites can live for up to two months on a human host, but only survive two to three days on items such as bedding, clothing and towels. Humans can transmit mites to other humans through prolonged direct skin to skin contact.
Adding oatmeal to a bath water is a natural way to relieve itching. For best results use cool or lukewarm water, as hot water tends to dry out the skin and may aggravate the itching. After soaking, rinse the skin with cool water and pat dry. Avoid rubbing the skin with the towel, as it can cause further aggravation.
Certain oils can help relieve irritation and itching from skin mites. Tea tree oil can be diluted in bath water to help relieve itching. It can also be mixed with witch hazel or applied undiluted directly to the affected area with a cotton ball to treat scabies. Lavender essential oil applied to the affected skin area can also provide itching relief. Another effective treatment is neem oil, a natural pesticide that penetrates the skin to relieve pain, itching and irritation caused by scabies mites.
Clothes, towels and bedding used by someone infected with skin mites should be machine washed in hot water and dried on the hottest cycle. Furniture and carpets should be cleaned and vacuumed. Items that can’t be washed should not come in contact with the skin for a minimum of 72 hours, which is the life span of mites on surfaces.