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Eczema vs. Scabies: How to Tell These Common Skin Conditions Apart

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Medically Reviewed By: Alia Hanif Khan
September 1, 2023September 4th, 2023No Comments

Updated on September 4, 2023

What is Eczema?

Eczema is a non-contagious, inflammatory skin condition. The exact cause of eczema flares is unclear. Thus, a multitude of factors are held accountable. In individuals with eczema, the scratching and redness of the skin appear in patches. These patches may appear red with blisters that break open, oozing clear liquid. Elbows, undersides of the knees, or other areas of the arms and legs are commonly affected. Eczema vs scabies is often mistaken for their resembling features. Revival Research Institute conducts dermatological clinical trials, including Eczema Clinical Trials, enrolling individuals tired of eczema challenges. Participate today to accelerate the discovery of breakthroughs in eczema and other skin conditions!

Read on to learn about the characteristics of eczema vs. scabies.

What are Scabies?

Scabies is a contagious dermatological condition caused by the infestation of a mite called sarcoptes scabiei. The infection spreads via direct skin-to-skin contact or using an infected towel, bed clothing, or furniture item infested with the mites. A red patch of itchy skin could be scabies or eczema. It is essential to get yourself checked to determine an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Infestations commonly occur in children, but aging does not limit the risk of the condition. According to global health reports, it is a common public health problem in poor communities and is widespread in many underdeveloped countries. (1)

What is the Difference between Eczema vs. Scabies?

Eczema vs. scabies are similar conditions, with key differences that set them apart. Here is a comparative analysis of eczema vs. scabies:

Eczema Scabies
Outlook of Eczema vs. Scabies
  • Flaky, red inflammatory rash of any shape
  • Very itchy, especially at night
  • Infection and crusting can occur with scratching
  • Red bumps, sometimes in a row
  • Very itchy, crusty, and scaly
Causes of Eczema vs. Scabies
  • Overactive immune response
  • Genetic factors/Family history
  • Sarcoptic mites
Commonly Affected Areas
  • Folds of skin on the neck and elbow
  • Behind the knees
  • Hands
  • Wrists
  • Folds of the wrist
  • Spaces between fingers, belly button, genitals, and armpits
  • Widespread in severe cases
Mode of Transmission None
  • Personal contact, including skin-to-skin contact
  • Infected belongings (could be anything)
Contamination Non-contagious Contagious
Also, read: Is Eczema an autoimmune disease?

Can Scabies Transform Into Eczema?

Eczema can manifest in one of two ways — as a pre-existing condition or as a consequence of being infested with scabies mites. Notably, the presence of scabies mites can lead to the development of extensive eczema. It is likely due to the immune response of individuals reacting to the mites’ burrowing activities and the substances they leave behind.

Furthermore, scabies infestations have the potential to trigger a widespread eczematous reaction, possibly stemming from the immune system’s response to both the mites themselves and the products they deposit within the skin.

How can you tell apart Eczema vs. Scabies?

Differentiating eczema vs. scabies poses challenges, making it difficult to manage the condition. Consideration of certain variables, such as family history and duration of manifestations is paramount to gaining clarity. Individuals unaccustomed to rashes tend to develop an itchy rash after being in a crowded living space — suspect scabies. Conversely, if recurrent rashes persist in the same areas over several years, eczema is more likely than scabies.

The rash might not be a clear-cut distinction. However, seeking professional help is always wise. A dermatologist may perform a scabies prep to test for scabies. It is a non-invasive procedure that involves scraping the skin followed by its microscopic examination for scabies mites. If the diagnosis remains uncertain, a dermatologist might conduct a skin biopsy. Though slightly more invasive, this procedure entails removing a skin segment for examination.

Eczema vs. Scabies Treatment

Both eczema and scabies require different treatment modalities that suit uniquely according to the severity of the condition. Scabies requires prompt treatment to eliminate the burrowing mites and stop their multiplication. Eczema, on the contrary, requires a treatment regime that focuses on subsiding inflammation and reduces the risk of future flare-ups.

An Overview of Treatment for Scabies

1.  Medications:

Topical creams containing permethrin, an effective ingredient, are primarily used for killing scabies mites. The direction of application is such that applying the cream to the entire body and leaving it on the skin for 8 to 10 hours before rinsing it off. For best results, double potential treatments a week apart might be needed.

In some cases with widespread infection, oral medications such as Ivermectin are the drug of choice. A comprehensive approach suggests using topical treatment with oral therapy for best results.

2.  Hygiene Measures:

Thorough cleaning of clothing, bedding, and personal items with hot water to prevent reinfestation is essential. Vacuuming living spaces, bedrooms, and all those areas where you spend most of your time is equally paramount. Additionally, items that can not be washed should be sealed in a plastic bag or air-tight container for at least 4 days to kill any remaining mites.

Sometimes persistent itchiness lingering for 6 weeks or more after treating the scabies mite might occur from the residue of mites in the skin despite treatment. To temporarily ditch the itch, soothing moisturizers, and antihistamines are a safe resort.

3.  Home Remedies:

The best way to treat mild scabies at home is to use tea tree oil, aloe vera, neem, and clove oil to help manage itching and discomfort.

An Overview of Treatment for Eczema

1.   Medications:

While there is no cure for eczema, certain topical medications including topical steroids like hydrocortisone or triamcinolone, calcineurin inhibitors like pimecrolimus or tacrolimus, PDE4 inhibitors like eucrisa are commonly prescribed to soothe the skin. In severe eczema cases, systemic steroids–prednisone, oral immunosuppressants—Rinvoq, and dupixent injections work best.

2.  Home Remedies:

Some helpful home remedies and lifestyle modifications for temporary relief reserved for treating mild flares are:

  • Overnight wet wrap therapy for enhanced absorption
  • Gentle soaps
  • Avoid scratching
  • Wear soft, breathable clothing

About Eczema Clinical Trials

For individuals struggling with red, itchy, scaly rashes or blistering skin, that is eczema, Revival Research Institute is conducting Eczema Clinical Trials! You may qualify for the study if you:

  • Are at least 12 years or older
  • Have been diagnosed with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis (eczema)
  • Have had a history of eczema for at least 6 months

Avail yourself of the chance to be a part of investigating potential novel therapies that might help you or your loved ones live better than today, every day.


In summary, both eczema and scabies can cause itching and discomfort. Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition with no mite involvement and is not contagious. Scabies, on the other hand, is caused by a mite infestation and is highly contagious. With scabies, the risk of reinfestation is highly possible (2). Thus, follow-up is essential to eliminate any risks. In either case, seeking a proper diagnosis by a healthcare professional is crucial to determine the appropriate treatment for each condition.

Dr. Unzila Nadeem

Author Dr. Unzila Nadeem

Dr. Unzila Nadeem currently works as a Patient Recruitment Associate. With her combined experience as a dentist and her firm grip on research processes, she makes a valuable addition to our Patient Recruitment team.

More posts by Dr. Unzila Nadeem

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