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What Are Conditions With Symproms Similar To Scabies?

Scabies FAQ - Conditions with Symptoms Similar to Scabies?

The symptoms associated with scabies are similar to several other types of skin conditions. This can lead to a misdiagnosis. Because scabies is highly contagious, it is important to get proper treatment as soon as possible. Some symptoms may resemble other skin disorders, but a physician can provide testing to verify if you have been infested by the scabies mite. The following are examples of skin diseases or disorders that produce symptoms similar to scabies.



Allergic Skin Reactions

Contact dermatitis is one allergic skin reaction that may resemble scabies. It causes an inflammation of the skin and can be minor or severe. A rash of tiny red bumps may form on the skin, or skin may become inflamed, and larger blisters may form. Typically, a rash forms within 48 hours after the skin has been in contact with the allergen. If you develop a rash after being exposed to an irritant, you may have contact dermatitis.

Another skin condition that resembles scabies is atopic dermatitis. Also called eczema, this condition can be caused by a number of irritants. It affects mostly babies and children, but it can occur in teens and adults as well. Symptoms of atopic dermatitis include severe itching and a raised red rash. More severe cases produce small red bumps or sores that develop on the affected area.

Allergic rash dermatitis
Allergic rash dermatitis skin texture
Image source: 123rf.com



Insect Bites

A flea, tick or insect bite can cause an allergic skin reaction that looks similar to scabies. As the body reacts to the bite, a rash, hives or small bumps may develop on the skin. Intense itching and inflammation around the bite area may also occur. Milder cases can be treated with a cold or ice pack which reduces swelling and eases itching. A more severe reaction may require emergency aid. It is important to seek medical care if you experience a serious allergic reaction to a bite.

Insect bite
Mosquito on human skin

Image source: 123rf.com




Hives produce symptoms that resemble scabies, but they have some distinct qualities. Hives are the body’s reaction to various things including food, medication, stress or certain irritants. They first appear on the skin as red, raised bumps and can be different shapes and sizes. Most hives are redder around the outside and may be lighter in the center. They can cluster together to form large patches over the skin. A development of hives may last for several minutes, or it can continue for days. Bumps may form and quickly disappear, and new bumps may appear elsewhere on the body.

Hives on back
Hives on back.
Image source: IA Info Center




Folliculitis produces small, red pimples on the skin that resemble a scabies rash. It is an infection of the hair follicles, so it can develop anywhere on the body that grows hair. Rashes commonly form on the scalp, face, thighs and groin. Folliculitis first appears as a red area that may be painful to touch. Small pimples eventually develop, and the area may burn or itch. Some pimples may be filled with pus. Unlike scabies, mild forms of folliculitis often heal without treatment.

Image source: dermaamin.com




Impetigo is a bacterial infection of the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body, and it generally develops due to bacteria entering a cut in the skin. Sores or blisters are the main symptoms of impetigo. The blisters may become crusty and filled with liquid that seeps out. The skin surrounding the sores can become puffy as the infection spreads. Impetigo blisters are light brown, which distinguishes them from a scabies rash. Sores commonly develop under the nose but may easily be spread to other areas of the skin.

Image source: huidziekten.nl



Dry Skin

Dry skin may be mistaken for scabies because of the itching it causes. Scabies often begins as an intense itch, and small rashes or sores eventually appear. Dry skin often causes itching as well, and the irritation can produce redness, inflammation and rashes. Scratching at dry skin can intensify the symptoms. Skin that is dry may appear flaky, scaly, rough or cracked. Severely dry skin may peel and bleed, and large red patches may develop. Dry skin can develop anywhere, and the severity varies from person to person.

Illustration of dry skin
Dry skin illustration

Image source: 123rf.com




Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin condition producing symptoms that somewhat resemble scabies. When a person is affected by psoriasis, he or she can develop small red patches that appear underneath layers of scaling, peeling skin. The patches may also appear white in color. With psoriasis, the skin cells die and form at a faster pace than normal. The scaly patches can develop anywhere on the skin but commonly occur on the scalp, elbows, knees and back. This skin condition is not contagious, but members of the same family often develop it.

Psoriasis on legs
Psoriasis on legs

Image source: 123rf.com



Drug Reactions

Numerous drugs and medications can cause adverse skin reactions that resemble scabies as well. A rash may occur because of an allergic reaction to certain medications, or it can be a side effect of the drug. Most drug related rashes begin as small red spots on the skin. Generally, the rash develops within the first week of taking the medication. The small spots may spread rapidly all over the body and face. Exposure to sunlight often exacerbates the problem. If you are taking a new medication and develop a rash, you may find relief within a few days of discontinuing the drug. Some cases are more severe and may require medical care.

Drug reaction
Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Signs (DRESS Syndrome)
Image source: meded.ucsd.edu

Unlike some of these skin conditions, scabies is easily passed from person to person, so it is essential to get proper care without delay. Many other conditions require different treatments than scabies, and a misdiagnosis can lead to complications. If you suspect you have scabies, it’s a good idea to seek medical help immediately. Your physician can determine whether or not your symptoms are due to a scabies infestation.







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