Head Lice and Scabies: Learning the Difference

Many individuals believe that scabies and lice are the same thing. Let’s go through the distinctions between them so you can identify whether or not you have an infestation.

Learning about Scabies and Head Lice

What are Scabies? And What are head lice? How different are they from one another? How do you get rid of them after you have realized which one has infested? Let’s break them down to look at their differences and similarities. In this blogpost, I’ll explain the differences between head lice and scabies. We’ll see how they are similar & different, where they come from, what one should do when they have been bitten by head lice or scabies, and how to get rid of them if they pop up. 

What Are Scabies & How Do They Differ From Head Lice?

Scabies and head lice are indeed parasites from the group ectoparasites. These insects feed off the host’s blood and live on their bodies. However, that is where the similarities end. A major difference between scabies and head lice is how they live and function.

How Lice Live

Lice, medically referred to as Pediculus Humanus Capitis, inhabit the human head. These head lice reside in the head hair and feed off the blood of their host. They live their entire life cycle on a human head and at any given time, there can be thousands living on one head. The adult female louse lays its eggs at the base of the hair shaft, close to the scalp. The nymphs hatch from the nits and live on the scalp. Lice feed on human blood several times a day. Often, lice spread through close head-to-head contact. This can occur when people share hats or other items such as combs, brushes, etc., with each other.

Symptoms of Lice

The most common symptom associated with pediculosis capitis is itching. Itching may be mild or severe depending upon the number of lice present in the person’s scalp. In some cases, itchy skin will develop into an open sore called papular pustules which usually appear within two weeks after infection.

How Scabies Live

Scabies, however, tunnel under your epidermal layer. While lice simply make a home out of your hair and scalp, scabies penetrate your skin. These human itch mites, also known as Sarcoptes Scabiei, dig into your skin and make a short burrow. They spread when a male mite penetrates that short burrow which the female mite has created. After mating, the female mite leaves her burrow and searches the area for another location to begin a new burrow.

Symptoms of Scabies

While head lice are always present on your head, scabies itch mostly at night because that is when they do their dirty deed. The best way you can tell if you have head lice or scabies is to visit a professional who can take When the infested skin comes in contact with another human’s skin, this is when the outbreak occurs. A rash develops over the entire body including the face, neck, arms, legs, buttocks, breasts, genitals, and feet. The rash appears as small red bumps covered by tiny white spots. Sometimes there may be no symptoms but sometimes there could be extreme discomfort due to intense itching.

How Do I Know If I Have Scabies or Lice?

Now that you have an idea of how each of these parasites lives and functions, you may be wondering if any of the two has found its way into your life. They can both lead to discomfort and itching, and both are parasites that infest human skin somehow. The difference between scabies and head lice is in where they live. Head lice prefer living under hair follicles while scabies prefer living on top of the epidermis. The symptoms associated with scabies include intense itching all over the body, especially around the face, scalp, neck, armpits, groin area, buttocks, feet, hands, etc., whereas those who suffer from head lice will experience a mild itch only at certain times. Another characteristic of head lice is that they are found very close to the head, around the edges of the scalp—while this isn’t necessarily the case for scabies. Scabies burrow holes into your skin. This makes head lice seem like angelic beings because their presence goes unnoticed. Scabies takes only about three weeks to incubate before it shows its head, but head lice generally are spotted sooner—as many can feel them crawling around in their hair.

Diagnosing Lice 

Lice are perhaps the easiest parasite to diagnose. Those familiar with lice know the difference between nits and dandruff. Nits are tiny yellowish or white oval-shaped eggs which are glued to the base of the hair shaft. With lice, you’ll suffer from an itchy scalp along with the certain feeling that there’s something crawling on your head. These simple symptoms along should be able to diagnose lice. The most common type of head louse has four pairs of legs and two wings. And you should be able to spot these crawling menaces with the naked eye as they scurry around your scalp.

Diagnosing Scabies

Scabies, on the other hand, might be a bit more difficult to diagnose. As opposed to the head louse, this parasite is microscopic. Not to mention that it’s not possible to know if you have them since they burrow under your skin, out of sight. Diagnosing Scabies and Lice However, with scabies, you may suffer from rashes or redness which would be caused by your skin’s reaction to the parasite. Also, at the early stages, you may suffer from severe itching, especially at night times which would then lead to scratching, and that would cause skin sores. This would then lead to a bacterial infection.

Treating Scabies and Head Lice

How can you get rid Of Scabies And Lice? Well, there are different ways you can treat these infections. You should consult a doctor first before trying any home remedies. Treatment for head lice usually involves using natural ingredients. Not to be mistaken for home remedies, these natural treatments use safe, pesticide free, non-toxic ingredients—making the lice easier to remove with a comb-out to truly remove the lice effectively. You can get treated today in our Orlando, FL clinic—for 100& guaranteed removal. What about Scabies? Scabies are treated using prescription scabicides. Usually in the form of a cream or lotion, these scabicides are applied on the whole body, rather than just the affected part to avoid any further spread of the parasite.   When dealing with any skin-related disease, it’s important to know all the facts before you try any treatment.  Once you’re educated, you can choose the right method. Successfully rid yourself of any discomfort or complication that these parasites inevitably cause!