Both scabies and lice can cause intense itching, so what is the difference between the both? If the itching happens on the hairy parts of the body, at all times of the day then it is the lice, whereas, prominent itching during the nighttime around the body parts is probably a scabies infection.
The other major distinction is the size of them both. The lice can be seen with the naked eye on the hair along with their eggs which are light brown in color. Scabies mite on the other hand is much harder to see with the naked eye. The scabies mite can be examined under the microscope and only a few people can see it with the naked eye.Closely examining these signs can help determine the infection.
Head lice (PediculusHumanus Capitis) about the size of a sesame seed is a parasitic disease in which the lice feeds on the human blood sucked from the scalp. They also feed on the nutrients from the host’s skin. They find home in the hair shaft and stay alive by feeding on the blood several times a day. Lice survives on the host’s head for about 30 days and they cannot survive for more than 24 hours off the host. Female louse can lay 3-5 eggs in a day and these eggs hatch in around 7-10 days. Thereafter they mature in 7-10 days and start reproducing to lay their own eggs.
Scabies in humans is caused by the itch mite SarcoptesScabiei which burrows under the skin to lay eggs and reproduce. They can survive on the human skin for upto 2 months and thrive in cold conditions having high humidity. They can survive for up to 72 hours off the host body. Scabies mite don’t feed on the blood like lice do. The female lays 2-3 eggs each day and these eggs hatch after 48 hours. Then they become adult mites in 10 days to reproduce and lay more eggs.
Which is more problematic?
So now the question arises, which infection is more of a problem? Since both these parasites affect the condition of the skin, they can be very irritating problem for the host. They can cause secondary infections which can lead to complications, especially in the case of scabies. It is very rare to have life-threatening infection from lice infestation.
The reported accounts of scabies infection leading to death are due to secondary infections in patients who have weak immune system, elderly and children who have compromised immune system. Scabies directly doesn’t cause any fatalities rather it is the bacterial infection due to the crusted scabies that is the real problem. It is due to the disruption of the skin which is the barrier against deadly microorganisms. A compromised area of the skin having lesions and open wounds due to crusted scabies lets these microorganisms into the bloodstream which can cause potential life-threatening diseases.
Precautions and treatment
Once the scabies infection is determined, proper treatment with OTC creams, lotions and oral medications is prescribed by the doctor. Cleaning the clothes and bedding of the patient is also necessary as these mites can survive off the host body for up to 72 hours. Washing the clothes in hot water with bleaching power kills the mite as they cannot survive in extremely hot temperatures.
To get over the itch and prevent the mite from increasing in number, home remedies are also beneficial. A bath in water infused with tea tree oil, neem, turmeric, Aloe Vera or similar antiseptic and antibacterial things can be beneficial.