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SCABIES VS ECZEMA

Dr. Fatima Munir 13 May 2022
SCABIES VS ECZEMA

Scabies and eczema are skin conditions that may look similar appearance-wise but are different.

For example, both scabies and eczema are allergic reactions, but their causes are different. In this article, we will highlight all the major differences between scabies and eczema.

Scabies is an allergic reaction caused by mite infestation on the skin, while eczema is a skin irritation that can be caused by several different types of allergens or irritants.

What Is Scabies?

Scabies is the overspread or infestation of a human itch mite called Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis on the human skin. These mites live under the human skin and lay their eggs there. The human itch mite is responsible for causing severe itching, rashes, and skin allergies, requiring medical attention to get rid of the mites.

A highly contagious skin condition, scabies can rapidly pass from one person to another through physical skin contact. An estimated 200 million cases of scabies are prevalent globally at any given time.

What Is Eczema?

Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis. It causes red, dry, itchy, and irritated skin. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that can be caused by various types of allergens.

The skin condition can be triggered by multiple factors like immune system activation, stress, environmental triggers like allergens, and genetic factors.

Eczema is a non-contagious disease, meaning that it does not pass to another person through direct skin contact.

How Do Eczema And Scabies Look Like?

If you have eczema, your skin will appear red, purple, brown, or ash gray in color. The appearance of the skin will be dry and scaly with some warmth and swelling, including small rough bumps.

Cross section of skin shows area of healthy skin and area of inflammatory Eczema rash and flakes triggered by allergens

Scabies on your skin can look like pink rash-like blisters or pimples with raised bumps filled with fluid. The skin may show red scaly patches.

Scabies mite burrows into the skin causing rash-like blisters or pimples with raised bumps filled with fluid on the skin

How To Differentiate Eczema And Scabies?

Eczema and scabies can be distinguished by a skin sample test. Moreover, a common symptom that appears in scabies is severe itching, mainly at night.

The main differences between eczema and scabies are described below:

  1. While both are skin conditions, scabies is contagious, whereas eczema is not.
  2. Eczema is caused by environmental and genetic factors, while scabies is caused by the infestation of microscopic skin mites.
  3. Scabies can occur in atypical areas like the buttocks, genital area, armpits, soles of the feet, and breasts. Eczema commonly occurs in typical areas of the body like the face, hands, feet, and elbows.
  4. The diagnosis of eczema is made by physical examination of the skin condition. In comparison, the diagnosis of scabies involves taking skin samples from the affected area and identifying the mite or mite's eggs and fecal matter under a microscope.
  5. The treatment for scabies vs eczema differs in that scabies treatment focuses more on killing the mites while the treatment for eczema focuses on controlling and managing its symptoms.
  6. Permethrin is a drug of choice given specifically to treat scabies.

Similarities Between Scabies And Eczema

Scabies and eczema have many similarities, which include:

  • Scabies and eczema are both inflammatory skin conditions.
  • Both scabies and eczema come with rashes, redness, and scaly skin.
  • Scabies and eczema both show itchiness.
  • The appearance of scabies and eczema can look similar.
  • Thick crusting on the skin can appear with eczema and scabies.
  • Both scabies and eczema can appear anywhere on the body.
  • The treatment of eczema and scabies includes applying topical medications and/or taking oral antibiotics. Over-the-counter topical medications like hydrocortisone or OTC antihistamines can be given to relieve the symptoms of both conditions, such as itching.

Can Scabies Lead To Eczema?

Yes. Scabies causing burrowing mites and their fecal matter can trigger an immune reaction leading to eczema.

What Kills Scabies Instantly?

It may need time for scabies to completely disappear after medications. But you can adopt home remedies like applying aloe vera to alleviate itching and kill scabies faster. A study in 2009 revealed that aloe vera gel was as successful as benzyl benzoate cream given for scabies.

How To Confirm If Your Rash Is Due To Scabies?

Scabies rashes show pimple-like bumps, scales, and tiny blisters. The intense itching gets worse at night.

Diagnosis Of Scabies Vs Eczema

To confirm that you have scabies, a sample from your skin will be taken for testing. If the result reveals a mite infestation, it confirms the presence of scabies. If not, it indicates some other skin condition.

To rule out eczema, the doctor will undertake a physical examination of your skin without any sample testing.

The Symptoms Of Eczema Vs Scabies:

The symptoms of eczema include:

  • Itchy and dry skin
  • Urge to scratch
  • Rough skin
  • Inflamed skin
  • Crusting or oozing on skin
  • Swelling at the site of rashes and itching

The symptoms of scabies include:

  • Severe itching, especially at night
  • Rashes on any part of the body
  • Tiny blisters and bumps
  • Pimple-like skin rash
  • Thick crusts on the skin
  • Sores

Where Does Scabies Occur On The Body?

Scabies symptoms can show on any part of the body. But commonly, it appears:

  • On the buttocks
  • Around the breasts
  • On the knees
  • On the soles of the feet
  • Around the male genital area
  • Around the waist
  • In the armpits
  • Between the fingers
  • On the inner elbows
  • On the inside of the wrists

In infants and young children, the common sites of scabies include:

  • Soles of the feet
  • Palms of the hands
  • Scalp

Where Does Eczema Appear On The Body?

Just like scabies, eczema can appear anywhere on the body. But most common areas of eczema appear to include:

  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Face
  • Neck
  • Insides of the elbows
  • Behind the knees
  • Ankles
  • Around the eyes
  • Wrist
  • Upper chest
  • Fingers

Treatment Of Eczema

The treatment of eczema can include topical medications and symptom management.

1. Topical Medications

Topical medications can help repair skin and control itching. For example, calcineurin inhibitors are given for treating eczema.

Calcineurin inhibitors such as pimecrolimus and tacrolimus are immunosuppressants that work by altering the immune system.

To control itching in eczema, the doctor may recommend hydrocortisone cream and OTC antihistamines.

2. Oral Medications

Antibiotic creams and oral antibiotics may be given if your skin has a bacterial infection. Also, in more severe cases of eczema, the doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids, such as prednisolone, to control inflammation.

3. Lifestyle Management

Along with medications, self-care measures are necessary to soothe inflamed skin and reduce itching in eczema.

Following are some self-care measures to treat eczema and manage its symptoms.

  • Select a moisturizer compatible with your skin type and apply it at least two times a day on the affected areas.
  • Don't scratch. If you feel the urge to scratch, slightly press the skin or cover the itchy area with a soft cloth or bandage.
  • Apply an OTC anti-itch cream, such as hydrocortisone, daily.
  • Take a bath with warm water daily.

Treatment Of Scabies

Scabies treatment also includes oral and topical medication and lifestyle modifications. The doctor may ask you to apply medication all over the body and leave it overnight or for 8 hours.

The following treatment is recommended for scabies:

1. Topical And Oral Medications

A topical cream known as Permethrin is commonly prescribed for treating scabies. It contains chemicals that kill mites and eggs responsible for causing scabies.

Benzyl benzoate cream is used to treat scabies in children and adults. It can be used for children over 2 months of age.

Oral medication, such as Ivermectin (Stromectol), is prescribed to patients having altered immune systems or crusted scabies. It is also given to patients who don't respond to topical creams.

Over-the-counter antihistamines, hydrocortisone, and soothing lotions, such as calamine, can be taken to relieve pain and itching caused by scabies.

Antibiotic creams may be given if you have a skin infection too.

Steroid creams are given to reduce severe inflammatory symptoms like redness, swelling, and itching.

2. Lifestyle Modifications & Home Remedies

Itching may take some time to relieve after you take or apply medications. For soothing irritation, you can follow these steps:

  • Apply a soft wet cloth to the affected areas.
  • Soak your skin in cool water.
  • Avoid scratching your skin as much as possible.
  • Avoid physical contact and sharing of personal belongings with people as the disease can rapidly spread from one person to another person.

Conclusion

Scabies and eczema are inflammatory skin conditions. They can cause redness, swelling, rashes, patches, bumps, and scaling or crusting on your skin. Both can appear anywhere on your body. Scabies is commonly caused by mite infestation on the skin, while eczema is caused by genetic factors and environmental triggers.

You may confuse scabies and eczema, so it is better to get a diagnostic test and physical examination done by a doctor.

It may take time for the condition to heal completely, so following self-care measures like avoiding itching, applying anti-itch cream or soothing lotions and moisturizers, and taking medications recommended by a doctor can help manage the condition.

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About the Doctor:

Dr. Fatima Munir is a Doctor by profession, a freelance content writer, and a researcher. With a penchant for research, she diligently curates facts and the latest literature to guide readers on all matters of health.

References:

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