Do you have eczema or scabies? Understand the differences
They may look similar, but they couldn’t be more different
Because scabies causes itching and can resemble certain aspects of eczema (redness and vesicles, lesions from scratching), it is sometimes mistaken for eczema. Confusing the two could have consequences, however, given that scabies, although benign, is contagious.
What is scabies?
Scabies is a contagious disease caused by a mite. The parasite burrows into the skin, causing itching and lesions. Don’t bother trying to see it, because it is invisible to the naked eye; only a doctor can confirm its presence with the help of a dermatoscope.
The scabies mite is called Sarcoptes scabiei hominis.
How can you tell whether you have eczema or scabies?
Below are a few signs that may suggest scabies over eczema:
- Other family members are scratching.
- The areas affected are not typical of eczema (buttocks, underarms, between the fingers, genital region, etc.).
- There are tracks or “burrows” in the skin linked to the parasite’s movement in the epidermis (but they are tiny and difficult to see for the untrained eye).
- Topical corticosteroids have apparently no effect.
- In infants, vesicles and small, raised red lesions appear on the soles of the feet (“scabies nodules”).
It can sometimes be very difficult to differentiate between eczema and scabies...
How to care for your skin
Absolutely consult your doctor to confirm the diagnosis. Of course, eczema and scabies require different treatments.
Treatment for eczema
Topical corticosteroids are applied to soothe itching, in combination with suitable complementary care, which varies between allergic eczema and atopic eczema.
Treatment for scabies
Scabies is easily treated.
Treatment most often involves the application of anti-parasitic creams or lotions over the entire body as well as oral anti-parasitic medicines. All family members need to be treated. The parasite will also need to be carefully removed from the environment of the infected person: washing of clothes and sheets, etc.