Do you have scabies?
It can be hard to tell.
In fact, scabies is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed skin conditions. It has so many similarities to other ailments that even doctors get it wrong quite often.
Eczema, allergies, insect bites and just general rashes are some of the common misdiagnoses. All over the interwebs you will find people talking about how they had scabies, but their doctors diagnosed it as dermatitis or rosacea for several weeks.
How long does it take for scabies symptoms to show?
This depends on your own scabies history, interestingly enough.
If it’s your first time getting scabies, then it’s normal for symptoms to only show after 4-6 weeks. This is problematic, especially if you have a family or partner, because even though symptoms are not showing, it doesnt mean you’re not contagious.
In fact, it’s very possible for you to spread scabies within this initial 4-6 period, despite being completely asymptomatic.
On the other hand, if you’ve had scabies before in the past, scabies symptoms will show up a lot sooner, sometimes within a few days.
So how do you know if you actually have scabies?
Here are the first signs to look out for:
A severe itch
One of the biggest tell tale signs of scabies is the itch it brings. Little mites burrowing through your skin leads to an itch that will likely be more severe than any itch you’ve felt before. I have lived with eczema my entire life and the scabies itch was certainly at a different intensity altogether.
However, the itch is often over exaggerated by many people. It is quite possible you will go several hours of the day without scratching at all. Then when you are relaxed, such as watching TV or lying in bed, the itch will come on and take over. If you are experiencing a severe itch only a few hours a day, it is still very possible you have scabies.
Regardless, scabies almost always brings an itch far more intense than the usual rashes/allergies that you may have experienced in the past.
Visible burrows on your skin
Inspect the areas of your body that are itchy. Can you see thin zig-zag lines? If so, these are most likely the burrows of the scabies mite. They often appear pink or light grey in color, and are random and irregular.
Rashes and spots on the skin
As scabies are a foreign parasite to the human body, they often cause people to have an allergic reaction. This is usually in the form of rashes, spots, and general flare ups on the skin. These are most commonly found on the torso, the buttocks and the thighs. It can look like acne or chickenpox, or just redness in general.
If you feel a crawling sensation in your skin, accompanied by an itch that is keeping you up at night, it is very likely you are experiencing the early symptoms of scabies. Sleepless nights are one of the most characteristic scabies signs and if you are also experiencing the symptoms above, it is very likely you have a scabies infestation.
The only way to be 100% certain you have scabies is to be examined by a dermatologist. They should either look at your skin directly through a strong microscope, or do a skin scrape. With these methods they should be able to identify the mite itself, and confirm beyond all doubt that you are dealing with scabies.
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