Difference between Scabies and Pediculosis

Difference between Scabies and Pediculosis:

Difference between Scabies and Pediculosis: Scabies and Pediculosis are both parasitic skin infestations, however, the causative agents and appearances differ. The Sarcoptes Scabies mite burrow into the skin, resulting in Scabies, which are characterised by burrow tracks and small bumps on the skin along with extreme itching. On the other hand, certain species of lice produce Pediculosis, also called lice infestation, by feeding on blood and depositing their eggs in the hair or on the skin, which causes itching and discomfort. Whereas Pediculosis, depending on the species, infects the scalp, body, or pubic region, Scabies usually affect places like the wrists, elbows, and genital region. Medication to destroy the parasites and their eggs is part of the treatment for both illnesses, as is taking steps to stop the spread and re-infestation.

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Difference between Scabies and Pediculosis

While Pediculosis is an infestation of lice that causes itching and irritation, Scabies are caused by mites burrowing into the skin, causing intense itching and a rash. Pediculosis typically affects the scalp, body, or pubic region, while Scabies typically affects the wrists, elbows, and genitals. Both conditions are treated with medications to kill parasites and eggs. The table below provides the differences between Scabies and Pediculosis.




Causing Agent

Sarcoptes scabiei mite

Lice (Pediculus humanus capitis, corporis, pubis)

Infestation Location

Burrows into the skin, often in folds and webs of fingers, wrists, elbows, genitalia

Infests hair (head, body, pubic region) and sometimes clothing


Close physical contact, sharing of clothes, bedding

Direct contact with infested individuals, sharing of personal items (combs, brushes, hats, clothing)


Intense itching, rash with small bumps, blisters, or burrow tracks

Itching, presence of nits (lice eggs) on hair shafts, rash may occur in affected areas


Physical examination, skin scrapings examined under a microscope

Visual inspection of affected areas, presence of live lice or nits confirms diagnosis


Topical creams or lotions containing permethrin or ivermectin, oral medications may be prescribed

Medicated shampoos, lotions, or creams, combing out nits, washing clothes and bedding in hot water


Avoiding close contact with infected individuals, refraining from sharing personal items

Avoiding direct contact with infected individuals, not sharing personal items

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What are Scabies?

Scabies is an extremely contagious skin infestation caused by the Sarcoptes Scabies mite. These little mites delve into the epidermis, depositing their eggs and producing a rash that is unpleasant and frequently worse at night. It frequently affects the vaginal area, armpits, wrists, elbows, and spaces between the fingers. In congested living environments, Scabies can spread quickly and are transferred by close skin-to-skin contact. Prescription drugs are usually used in treatment to eradicate the mites and their eggs, coupled with precautions against re-infestation and transmission.

Causes of Scabies 

  • Direct Skin-to-Skin Contact: Holding hands, sharing a bed, or any prolonged, close contact with an infected individual are the main ways that Scabies are transmitted.
  • Living Conditions that are Crowded: Scabies are more likely to spread in settings like child care centres, nursing homes, and jails where individuals are frequently near one another.
  • Sharing Personal Stuff: The mites can spread by sharing linens, clothes, towels, or other personal objects with an infected person.
  • Weaker Immune System: Individuals receiving chemotherapy or living with HIV/AIDS are among those who have weaker immune systems and are more likely to get severe or long-lasting Scabies infections. 
  • Age: Scabies can strike anyone at any age, but because of their weakened immune systems and frequent contact with others, they strike youngsters and the elderly more frequently.
  • Poor Hygiene: While Scabies can afflict people regardless of their level of hygiene, bad hygiene can help the infestation spread.

Symptoms of Scabies 

  • Severe Itching: Severe itching is the most frequent symptom of Scabies. It usually gets worse at night and can get much worse after taking a hot bath or shower.
  • Rash: Tiny red pimples or blisters are the outward sign of a Scabies infestation. The rash could be found in skin folds around the waist, buttocks, elbows, wrists, fingers, and buttocks.
  • Burrows and Tracks: On the skin's surface, there may occasionally be thin, asymmetrical tracks or burrows visible. These result from mites entering the skin to deposit their eggs.
  • Secondary Infections: By causing skin breaches from scratching, impetigo and other bacterial infections are more likely to occur.

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What is Pediculosis?

Pediculosis is a medical term that describes a lice infestation, specifically in the hair and/or on the skin. Humans can contract head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis), body lice (Pediculus humanus corporis), and pubic lice (Pthirus pubis) from three primary lice species. Itchy, irritated, and uncomfortable, Pediculosis is usually treated with medicinal shampoos or lotions that are made especially to kill lice and their eggs (nits). To stop reinfestation, it's critical to wash bedding, clothes, and other items that may have come into contact with the infected person completely.

Causes of Pediculosis

  • Direct Contact: Coming into proximity to an infected individual is a common way for Pediculosis to spread. Sharing combs, brushes, hats, clothing, or beds with someone who has lice might result in this.
  • Close Contact: The danger of transmitting lice is increased when there is close contact with an infected person, such as during play, sleepovers, or intimate touch.
  • Sharing Personal Items: If someone with lice has hats, scarves, hair accessories, towels, or bedding, it can spread the lice or their eggs, called nits, to other people.
  • Inadequate Hygiene: Although lice favour hair that is clean, unhygienic or crowded settings might facilitate the spread of Pediculosis.
  • Schools and Childcare Facilities: Where children gather in close rooms, like these establishments, Pediculosis can spread swiftly.

Symptoms of Pediculosis

  • Itching: The most typical Pediculosis symptom is itching. It can be moderate or severe and is caused by an allergic reaction to lice bites.
  • Visible Lice or Nits: In addition to itching, lice or their eggs (nits) may be seen on the body, pubic region, scalp, or hair. Lice are tiny, wingless insects that resemble sesame seeds in size and range in colour from tan to greyish-white. Small oval-shaped eggs called nits are affixed to hair shafts near the skin or scalp.
  • Skin Irritation: Redness, inflammation, and irritation of the skin can result from scratching the itchy regions. 
  • The Feeling of something Moving in the Hair or on the Skin: When lice are actively feeding, some people may feel as though something is crawling or moving in their hair or on their skin.
  • Sleep Problems: Severe Pediculosis can cause excruciating itching and pain, which can make it difficult to fall asleep, especially in cases of severe infestation.

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Similarities between Scabies and Pediculosis 

  • Itching: Severe itching is a common symptom of both Pediculosis and Scabies, and it usually gets worse at night. The body's allergic response to the saliva, faeces, or secretions of the parasites is what causes this itching.
  • Skin Irritation: Redness, inflammation, and severe scratching are common side effects of Pediculosis and Scabies. Scratching might result in secondary bacterial infections or open sores in extreme situations.
  • Transmission: Direct skin-to-skin contact or the sharing of contaminated personal objects, such as clothes, beds, or towels, are the two most common ways that Scabies and Pediculosis spread.
  • Environments with Close Human Contact: Places like houses, schools, daycare centres, nursing homes, and prisons are more likely to have both infestations.

In conclusion, Scabies and Pediculosis are parasitic skin infestations that both produce itching and pain, but they are caused by different organisms (lice in the case of Pediculosis, and mites in the case of Scabies), and they differ in terms of symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

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What are Scabies?

The microscopic mite Sarcoptes scabiei is the source of the contagious skin condition known as Scabies. It results in a recognisable rash and severe itching.

How do Scabies spread?

Usually, intimate personal contact with an infected individual spreads Scabies. Sharing towels, blankets, or clothing can potentially spread it.

What is Pediculosis?

Lice are parasitic insects that cause Pediculosis, a skin infection. Humans are infested by head, body, and pubic lice, among other species of lice.

How does Pediculosis spread?

Direct contact with infected people or the sharing of personal objects like combs, brushes, caps, or clothes are the main ways that dwarfism is transmitted.

What are the similarities between Scabies and Pediculosis?

Both Pediculosis and Scabies are parasitic organism-induced skin infections that cause excruciating itching and suffering in those who have them.

What is the primary difference between Scabies and Pediculosis?

Scabies are caused by a minute mite burrowing into the skin, whereas Pediculosis is caused by parasitic insects such as lice infesting the hair or body.