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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), scabies is a common skin disease affecting many people worldwide yearly. It spreads easily in crowded places like nursing homes, prisons, and child care centers, where people are close to each other.

In real life, scabies is often diagnosed just by looking at the symptoms, which could sometimes be wrong. Read on to discover what can be mistaken for scabies due to their clinical picture.

What Causes Scabies?

Human scabies occur when tiny bugs called human itch mites burrow into your skin and lay eggs. The eggs live and hatch in the top layer of your skin. It is also contagious. The main signs of scabies are itchy skin and a rash resembling psoriasis or eczema.

Skin Conditions Mistaken for Scabies

There are many rash-causing skin conditions. Therefore, by the looks of scabies, it can be easily misdiagnosed. The following are the conditions it resembles:

1. Contact Dermatitis or Poison Ivy

Contact dermatitis, like poison ivy, happens when your skin touches something irritating, causing an allergic reaction. Symptoms include itching, rash, and blisters filled with fluid, which might look like scabies symptoms. However, with contact dermatitis, the symptoms usually only appear when your skin touches the irritant.

2. Folliculitis

In this condition, the hair follicles in your skin get infected and swollen. It can cause a rash that looks like pimples, similar to scabies. But unlike scabies, it doesn’t make you feel itchy.

3. Mosquito or Bug Bites

Getting bitten by insects, especially bed bugs, can make your skin itchy and uncomfortable, especially at night. This might seem like scabies. Also, bed bug bites can look like scabies burrows. Before thinking it’s scabies, it’s important to ensure it’s not bed bugs. A doctor can check your rash and tell you if it’s from the scabies mite or bed bugs.

4. Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis (AD)

Atopic dermatitis or eczema makes your skin itchy, irritated, red, and thick. It can look like scabies, but it’s not contagious and doesn’t spread by touching someone else’s skin.

5. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a condition where new skin cells grow too quickly, making scaly patches on the skin. These patches might be itchy and look like crusted scabies. But unlike scabies, psoriasis is not contagious.

How to Identify Scabies?

Only a clinical diagnosis can tell for sure. However, you can watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Severe itching, especially worse at night.
  • A rash that looks like pimples with tiny blisters and scales.
  • Small, raised, and wavy lines on the skin surface (called burrows or tunnels).
  • Skin sores and infections from scratching the rash too much.
  • Common places for the rash include skin folds between fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, armpits, nipples, waist, buttocks, and genitals. It can also be on babies’ and young kids’ heads, necks, palms, and soles.

Wrapping Up

Knowing what can be mistaken for scabies and other rashes will help you spot the signs early and determine the right treatment. Remember that misdiagnosis and self-medication can worsen the condition.

Visit Dr. Imran Nathani at the Family Diagnostic Clinic for a proper diagnosis of skin conditions via skin biopsy. Our board-certified internal medicine expert has several years of experience as chief of medicine and is currently serving at Tomball as Chief of Staff elect. Dial (281) 351-6800 to schedule an appointment.

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