Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Scoop on Scabies and Lessons Learned

I think I can safely say that the scabies infestation we became aware of last month has been overcome. There is a lot of misinformation about scabies that I had to weed through and I learned quite a few lessons on the power of prayer and the power of priesthood blessings, and some unexpected lessons. I do want to share some of the things on my mind.

{Misconceptions About Having Scabies: Just to Lay a Few Things at Rest...}

Scabies is highly contagious--yes--but really, it's highly contagious among people you share extended skin-to-skin contact with. Has to be longer than a hug or a handshake. I spread it to Kaia and Morgan because 1) scabies really like child skin and 2) I bathe, dress, care for, and snuggle my little darlings. For some reason, scabies don't really like man skin, so Steven was never infested. If they tried to invade, they must have given up. Scabies mites like the warmest parts of the body, so in between my fingers is where they set up camp. I've worn medical gloves during the day and wrapped my hands during the night so as to keep the scabies on me and not allow them to re-infest my children. It worked.

Scabies is not an airborne disease, it can't spread by me opening my door, and they don't jump...they move 1 inch in an hour. They are seriously slow and need prolonged skin contact to transfer. They are the size of a pin prick, and unless you know what to look for, you can't really tell that they are there until your body builds enough histamines up to alert an invasion--that takes 4-6 weeks! The life cycle of a male scabies mite is two weeks, the female lives up to a month, laying up to 3 eggs per day...there's some molting and mating and burrowing that goes on during that two week period. It's gross to say the least. Scabies mites can live up to 3 days off of their host. Interestingly enough, scabies mites cannot live above 120 degrees of heat, nor survive below 30 degrees. We froze our day to day stuff like shoes, knitting (I had to have one project), wallets, belts, etc.

It's come to my attention from a couple of people that some misinformed ward members have put a nix on any kind of visiting us, no one is allowed to come over or drop something off, etc. Okay...let me put this one to rest because I have a feeling that we might be treated as if we have leprosy if this doesn't get cleared up quickly. We took extreme measures beyond what our doctor advised to make sure we were healed and that it didn't spread further. Yes, it's harder to deal with than lice or bed bugs because it's really difficult to spot these scabies mites with the naked eye...you can at least see lice and bed bugs. But it's not a chronic, forever infestation if you take the right measures...

The night before I went to the doctor, I asked Steven to give me a blessing because my "eczema" had gotten so out of control that I was contemplating getting on this extreme diet and I knew that I could but questioned if I should--if it was the right step for our family. In that short and sweet blessing, I was told that I would quickly find out what the problem was, that it would be manageable, and that I would be successful in treating it.

I woke up the next morning and knew that I just had to cave and spend the money we did not have and go be seen by a doctor. After a very short visit, we were immediately diagnosed with scabies. Yuck. My doctor advised us to wash the sheets, towels, clothes daily for the next two weeks, spray our mattresses and couches with RID. She gave us all a prescription cream called Permethrin that we put on from hairline to the bottom of our soles, allow it to stay on the skin for 8-14 hours, then it is washed off with a good warm shower. The doc said once we had accomplished this, we were free to go out and about as we normally do...reapply 14 days later, and we should be good to go. We might have been just fine, following those instructions, but I knew how I would feel about being unsure, so I decided to quarantine our family for those two weeks--it's only two weeks...I could do it. 

I came home and felt uneasy about things, so I started researching and reading all of the horror stories about scabies infestations. I decided that I wanted to take an extremely disciplined approach and limit the possibility of re-infestation as greatly as I could. I bagged everything and anything in the house that was a soft good and set it in the third bedroom, wiped out all of the closets and cleaned from top to bottom. Our stuff has been quarantined for 5 weeks now. By the time I unpack it, some of it will have been left for more than 7 weeks. If they were in our clean clothes somehow, they dead now...I left out one set of sheets for each bed, two towels for each person, and two complete sets of clothing for each person. Still, something was telling me I needed to do more. I FELT PROMPTED TO QUARANTINE OUR FAMILY FOR THE DURATION OF THIS INFESTATION. I felt extremely prompted to especially make sure that our ward family be protected from this infestation for whatever reason, I don't know, but I stand by my prompting. The doctor, when I called two weeks later to follow up, thought I was crazy for being as meticulous as I was. I CONTINUED TO FEEL PROMPTED TO FOLLOW THE DAILY REGIMENT I HAD DEVELOPED UNTIL I WAS GIVEN FURTHER PROMPTINGS.

Steven gave me another blessing, this time instructing me that the success of healing was entirely dependent on my faith in the Savior's ability to heal, to instruct, and to bless. I was told I would be able to discern correctly from all of the research and reading I had done to know what was the right battle plan for our family. I was also reminded that Heavenly Father gave Adam and Eve dominion over all creatures...even the ones that creep! About this time, President Uchtdorf had given his talk and had instructed us to doubt our doubts and not our faith. It was a growing experience that I will go into a little more later on.

So, I stuck with it, much to the misery of our family...I thought we had been re-infested at the 2 week mark. After doing some research a week later, I discovered that our bodies were reacting to the scabies remains left behind, that we had not, in fact, been re-infested. We worked hard at using both conventional medicine and alternative medicine to beat this--as I felt prompted by the Spirit that it would work for us. At two weeks, we did a second round of the Permethrin cream and took advantage of the effects of Diatomaceous Earth. We took 1/3 part food grade DE and 2/3 part grapeseed oil and half of a bottle of doTerra's Clove Bud oil and combined it into a household spray bottle, used it every night after taking showers. Diatomaceous Earth cuts up the little scabies bugs and dehydrates them--kills them. Grapeseed oil clogs their feeding tubes. Clove Bud oil kills them. Steven and I worked DE into our mattresses and couches, covering them with plastic. We worked DE into the carpet. Diatomaceous Earth is amazing stuff and completely safe for humans and animals to be around. We also bought an enzyme cleaner called Kleen Free that interrupts the scabies molting process and forces them to leave the skin--this we sprayed on our plastic-covered mattresses and furniture, used to clean the tub and sinks, sprayed on commonly used things like door handles and light fixtures. I soaked my hands in Klee Free--it was amazing the first time I used it on my hands...about 15-20 scabies bugs came out of my skin. The skin on my hands felt quiet. That's when I knew we had really gotten somewhere. From then on, my skin had cleared, the devil itch had died down, and I felt strengthened to know that with the Lord's help, I figured out the combination of things I needed to undertake in order to help us kill the scabies and be cured. It worked, but it worked because the Lord had given His care and instruction to listen carefully.

We took an extremely vigilant approach to having scabies. I hope that our careful measures haven't given rise and made a mountain out of a molehill...when, really, we took a most serious approach to tackling this problem. We did a heck of a lot more than most people do to cure it, and we took extra measures to make sure it didn't infect anyone outside of our family. Please see this as a great love and respect for our acquaintances, friends, and ward family. We are not lepers...we are not dying. We're doing great and my hands look better than they have for a very long time...it seems that the eczema I'm used to battling has cleared up as well, although winter hasn't hit just yet...

{Lessons Learned}

My mom, bless her heart, constantly advises me to find out what I'm supposed to learn from a trial. She must feel like a broken record, I'm sure...and I sometimes just want to bemoan my sufferings and be validated. I was really good about keeping positive-mostly--for the first 3 weeks. Weeks 4 and 5 have been extremely difficult. We're now at week six. I've learned a lot.
  • I have a greater understanding of the Savior's involvement not only in my family's comings and goings but His involvement with our health. I know the Savior a little better now as a healer. Some people call him the Master Physician, which I think is so intriguing. He made our bodies. He knows how to fix them--if it is in line with the will of Heavenly Father. 
  • I have never known such isolation and loneliness. I learned a lot about myself--my needs. It sure confirmed my suspicion that I don't do well without the friendships of my ward family and friends and extended family, I don't do well without opportunities to serve other people. I rely on my relationships for strength--and I understood for the first time why it's important to physically show up and be there for other people, because it was then that I missed that kind of support myself. At first this made me angry, because just when I needed support I felt that I couldn't ask for it because I didn't want to ruin someone else's life by giving them scabies. I really honor and love the friends that took the time to stop by and run us supplies or a dinner or an activity for the kids. I hope they have been blessed tenfold for taking just a little bit of time to break my isolation and offer some relief. One of the sisters walked right into the house, like there was nothing to be afraid of and stocked my fridge with some lovely apples and staples like milk and butter. She was a nurse, so I suppose she knew better than I did that this was not as scary as I had made it out to be in my mind. But it meant a lot. And the two priests that came over and brought us the sacrament after all those Sundays we weren't able to go and partake...I will never take that ordinance for granted ever again or take for granted what those teenage boys do for hundreds in our ward--they provide a dose of the power of the Atonement, administered weekly. I sort of think of them as the Savior's pharmacy technicians now. Thank goodness I kept it together while they were here, but I sure lost it once they left. I understand myself a lot better than I did before. There is more to mortality than breathing in and breathing out and taking care of the basic needs of a family--and that it's a noble undertaking to be involved in church, to have friendships, to go experience the outdoors and to stop often and serve another person. 
  • I learned that life can be whittled down to just a few basics to survive. I also learned that just surviving is kind boring and draining. I miss the beautiful soft things that make a house cozy--throw pillows and curtains and a closet full of cheerfully, colored clothing, furniture that breathes (I hate using plastic on our couches!). I am grateful for all of the soft things that make life a little bit more comfortable. I am grateful for what we have. We have more than what we need to survive...that means we're crazy blessed.
  • I learned that children can adapt to really hard circumstances and be perfectly happy (although there were plenty of cabin fever moments). I have spent more time with them then I have before. Before I knew it, we had created a new daily ritual-tradition of nap time after lunch--I sit in the chair in their room, curled up with a good book, and sit there with them until they drift off. They comply with nap times a lot better than they have before. They have driven me crazy and made me ache for time to myself which I couldn't have because there was no where for me to go and no one for me to visit with...I learned that I really do need a night off each week and I am itching to get back to that Tuesday night off of Bliss. And I learned that I really need to develop better habits when coping with fighting children. Still working on that one. 
I haven't yet reached the point where I have enough humility to say that I am grateful for this experience, I know I will get there one day and hopefully soon. I have learned a lot. It has changed the way I look at a few things and I know I will be cautious/borderline-paranoid for a long time about trying clothes on at the store and sterilizing hand me downs and things we buy at second hand stores like DI or Once Upon a Child or Fashion Runway. I am really looking forward to being around people again. I am worried that I might have a bit of shock being around more than just my two children and husband. I am grateful for the prayers and fasting that others have done on our behalf. I am ever so grateful to my Savior for His help, the angels the stopped by (on this side of the veil and on the other side of the veil...), and the phone calls that came every once in a while. I hope we never, ever, ever have to go through this again!  I am happy it is over...on to new adventures, please!


  1. I also believe that prayer is our strongest weapon. And if we pray hard and believe that everything will be alright then nothing will be impossible. However, it is really very important as well, that if you pray that you'll be cure because you have certain skin disease it is also best that you also add medicines to your prayer. I strongly believe that it will work best! Thank you for sharing your experiences, Tiffany. And I wish you happiness with your family! Keep safe! -www.naturasil.com

  2. I found this while searching scabies remedies. I'm so glad I did! I am also an LDS mother, and my son was diagnosed with scabies yesterday. We have been battling this rash since last summer. At first, we did treat everyone with permethrin, and when the rash persisted, e were told it was eczema. Finally, a pediatrician told us yesterday that it is still scabies, not eczema. I am so frustrated, because I have already been through all of this cleaning routine before. I am going follow your advice and buy grape seed oil, and dichotomous earth (I already own clove oil from the first time around). Thanks for sharing this experience. I know I need to strengthen my faith that Heavenly Father will bless our bodies to be cured.

  3. I've been thinking that God has plagued me, I've been living with something that started out as scabies, now... I just don't know.... Yes, GOD has a way of getting people's attention, HE got mine. And my husband goes uninfected. So, he doesn't understand. Please, pray for me.... I'm at a loss for words and I need Gods guidance in what to do.

  4. Can you PLEASE tell me what kind of Kleen Free to get I have eight boys and are all infected with scabies and tried so many things with nothing working I have researched online for many hours and also am LDS similar story as yours stayed away from church and as many people as possible. Praying finding your page is an answer to my prayers.Thanks!! Kim Madsen

  5. What brand name DE did you use? Also what was the brand for the Kleen Free

  6. Hi I recently discovered scabies. I bought DE and grapeseed oil. (Gonna get clove oil) I just wonder if it's safe to use DE (diatomaceous earth food grade) on children? I know in the lecture you have two kids and you explained you mixed those mixtures. Not sure I'd I can use on children? Help?
    Is it safe on infants, 1 ¹/², 3, and 5 years old?

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