Contact Dermatitis vs Scabies


An itchy and painful skin rash is never pleasant. There is a multitude of different things that can cause a rash to break out. Some are much more serious than others. Contact dermatitis and scabies are two very different skin conditions that are very common. They both produce a similar rash but the cause and treatment of these rashes are vastly different from each other.

Facts about Contact Dermatitis

1. What Is It?
Contact dermatitis is a skin rash caused by any form of irritant. It is extremely common and not serious. This rash is also not contagious at all. Many common chemicals can cause contact dermatitis. It can occur on any area of skin.

2. Symptoms
Symptoms of contact dermatitis are present on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the irritant. It is characterized by a red and bumpy rash, severe itching, dry skin, swelling of the skin and burning. In some severe cases blisters may form, as well as scaly skin. How severe your symptoms are depend on how long your skin was exposed to the irritant, how sensitive your skin is, and other environmental factors.

3. Cause
Contact dermatitis is caused by a reaction to a chemical or foreign substance. Some common irritants that may cause contact dermatitis to develop are rubbing alcohol, cleaning products, soaps, bleach, cosmetics, lotion, or plants.

4. Treatment
The biggest key to treating contact dermatitis is to avoid whatever irritant caused the reaction in the first place. Some prescription steroid creams are used if self remedies aren’t successful. Medications to repair the skin, such as Protopic or Elidel are also used. In severe cases oral steroids may be used.

Scabies Overview

1. Basics
Scabies is a skin infection that are caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. They burrow into the skin and cause a very uncomfortable rash. Along with being painful, this infestation is also extremely contagious.

2. Symptoms
The symptoms of scabies include a rash the causes little bumps. This rash closely resembles hives, tiny bug bites, or pimples. Scaly patches, similar to eczema, can also develop. Intense itching is another symptoms of scabies. The itching is worse at night because this is when the bugs are most active. Sores often develop from excessive scratching.

3. Location
Scabies can infest any area of the skin but some are more common than others. In between the fingers and around the nails, the elbows or wrists, and any area that is usually covered by clothing.

4. Cause
Scabies is caused by tiny little mites, the Sacroptes scabiei. They burrow into the skin and lay eggs in shallow tunnels. The itch is caused by the movement of the mites within the skin. They are also spread very easily from person to person. The mites also infest cloth in the home. So it is important to wash all clothing and bedding in the entire house if someone has scabies.

4. Treatment
The treatment of scabies involves a prescription topical cream, usually Permethrin, that is applied to the entire body. You must apply the cream to all of the skin because mites can escape and live in any area of untreated skin. This cream usually kills all larvae, babies, and adult mites with one treatment. Everyone that has come in contact with the person infested should also be treated.

Differences Between Contact Dermatitis and Scabies

1. What It Is
Contact dermatitis is a rash caused by skin irritants that have come in contact with the skin. Scabies is caused by small mites that have burrowed into and left eggs in a person skin. They both produce a rash but these rashes are very different.

2. Spread
Scabies is highly contagious and is easily spread from person to person. They can also be spread by infected clothing or other fabric materials, such as furniture. Contact dermatitis is not contagious, even through direct contact.

3. Appearance
Contact dermatitis looks red and splotchy, and often dry. Scabies however, causes many red bumps that look similar to bug bites to occur all over the skin.