How To Clean Pillows after Scabies?

Anyone can get scabies. It can affect people of all races, ages, and income levels. Even clean and neat people can get scabies. It spreads easily, but can be successfully diagnose and treated.

Once you get rid of scabies, you should thoroughly clean your home as well.

What Is Scabies?

Scabies is a skin infestation caused by a very small parasite known as Sarcoptes Scabei, a mite which is barely 1/100 inch across and almost invisible. Like we mentioned, this infestation is common all around the world, and affects people of all races and social classes.

Scabies is highly contagious. It can spread rapidly where there is frequent and prolonged skin-to-skin contact between people, such as in hospitals, nursing homes, and child-care facilities.

The female mite burrows into the upper layers of the skin and makes a narrow tunnel where she deposits her eggs. The eggs take some 3 to 10 days to hatch and then the young mites migrate to the surface of the skin.

After they breed, the males die. The young females move freely over the surface of the skin, ready to make new tunnels and lay more eggs, or move onto some other person who may be in close contact.

Scabies skin rash

How Does a Person Get Scabies?

Scabies are transmitted by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who already has scabies, which means that you can’t get scabies through a quick handshake or hug. However, if one member of family is infested then other members, especially sexual partners are likely to become infested as well. Transmission may also occur by sharing towels, clothing, and bedding, but this less likely to happen.

How Does Scabies Manifest?

You won’t be able to see the mites, but you will feel their presence and they will manifest themselves in the form of intense itching especially during night, burrows, pimple-like irritations or a skin rash.

They can usually be found on the hands, elbows and wrists where skin tends to be thin, especially between the fingers and folds of wrists and elbows. Other places include breasts, waistline, bold folds like the armpits, and genital area. People with scabies often develop sores on the body caused by scratching.

itching from scabies

How Soon after Infestation Will Symptoms Begin?

For those infested with scabies, symptoms may take 4–6 weeks to appear. Those who have had scabies before, however, will notice the first symptoms after only several days. Because the symptoms take so long to manifest, a person may be contagious for a month without even knowing before being finally diagnosed.

Who Is at Risk for Severe Infestation?

Although anyone can become infested by scabies some people are at a higher risk than others, especially those with weakened immune systems and the elderly. They are also at risk of getting a more severe form of scabies, called Norwegian scabies, otherwise known as crusted scabies.

scabies rash

How Long Do These Mites Live?

When living on someone, an adult female mite can live for a month. Once they are away from the human body, mites usually can’t survive more than 48 to 72 hours.

How Is a Scabies Infestation Diagnosed and Treated?

Scabies must be diagnosed by a dermatologist, who takes a close inspection at the burrows or rash. To confirm the scabies diagnosis, a skin scraping is often done that allows the doctors to see if there are any mites or eggs. Even if a biopsy or skin scraping is taken and shows negative, it is still possible that a person may be infested.

There are certain creams and lotions that can be prescribed for treating scabies and patients must always follow the directions provided by the physician in order to eliminate the infestation.

scabies hands

Treating Your Home and Your Pillows and Other Belongings

Even after you get rid of scabies, you may need to treat your home and your belongings as well. Insecticidal treatments are not recommended for scabies mites. Instead, you should take the following steps:

Step 1

You should wash daily all recently worn clothes and towels in hot water with laundry soap and dry them in a hot dryer, and you should continue doing this until the treatment is over. You don’t need to wash the clothes that were not used and that were kept inside a closed drawer or a closet.

Step 2

Remove your bedding, your covers, blankets, pillows, etc. and wash what can be washed and what is washable in hot water in a washing machine with laundry soap and dry in hot dryer.

sheets with scabies

Step 3

Use the dryer to clean the items that are not washable. This may include pillows or rugs. Turn on the dryer for at least 30 minutes on high. However if your pillows or other items can’t be cleaned by using a dryer, you should place them in plastic bags for at least two weeks and keep them in some place that is not frequently used like basement.

Scabies can’t survive for more than 3 or 3 three days without human contact. After you pull out your items from the bags, throw the bags in the garbage.

Check out our mattress reviews and our Top 10 Mattress Guide as well in case you would like to get the new mattress too and need help with choosing the right one for your needs and sleep preferences.  

Step 5

Vacuum floors, rugs, carpets, chairs, and other pieces of furniture to remove mites and their eggs and feces. Vacuum once a day as long as the scabies outbreak lasts.

Step 6

Once the scabies infestation is over, you should change the bag in your vacuum cleaner if it has one and then throw the bag you remove in a garbage.

Step 7

Disinfect all surfaces in your home. Mop floor and bathroom surfaces and clean the shower or bath tub after each use.

The Last Resort: Replace your Pillows and possibly your Mattress!

If you are not sure whether you cleaned them properly or if you continue to have symptoms that indicate Scabies, you might want to throw them away and get new pillows.  This is often what is necessary because scabies can be so persistent and you don’t want them up near your head either. 

We have reviewed a lot of popular pillows available on the online market, to facilitate your purchase and help you find the right one for your needs. Click here to read our pillow reviews and see if you can find a suitable replacement. 

One favorite of ours, and the top one on our Best Pillows list is the Kapok memory foam pillow from Layla. This pillows is super soft, and has adjustable fill inside that allows you to add or remove the materials so that you can customize the amount of material in it to suit your sleeping style.  At $99 it doesn’t cost much and the company often has buy one / get one 1/2 off sales. 

This also applies to your mattress as well, which is normally the prime source of scabies.  In addition to your pillow you may also want to replace your mattress as well, if you have really bad infestation that you can’t get rid of. 

Our Top 10 Best Mattress guide is a good place to start.  Layla also has an excellent mattress that matches their pillow and is one of our favorites as well – you can read our Layla Mattress Review here. 

Replacing your pillows and worse case your mattress as well is definitely one way to ensure you don’t have scabies tormenting you during your sleep!


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