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scabies vs bed bugs

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  1. yikes

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Aug 6 2007 14:28:06
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    I have a bumpy rash on my hands, arms and legs which I think looks like it may be bed bugs. I went to the emergency room last night and they said it was scabies -- I've been using the medication for scabies and it seemed to help. At this point I am actually happy relieved to think I might have scabies!! Crazy.

    I've been reading that many bed bug cases were misdiagnosed as scabies, so I want to be thorough. I'm going to a dermatologist today and I'll ask them to do the scrape/microscope test to ensure that it is scabies.

    But in the meantime a couple of questions for bedbuggers:

    - I tore through my apartment on Saturday washing and laundering everything. I wiped down my whole room with that murphy's oil soap, etc. and through the entire process I didn't see any 1) black dots/blood smears; 2) bugs/shells; 3) stains/remnants on sheets etc. which would indicate bed bugs. I also stayed up a night to inspect my sheets with flashlight to try and see bugs in action.

    Is it most likely I would have seen at least some signs if I had bed bugs? Have a lot of people had bed bugs and never seen ANYTHING?

    - I don't think I've been getting more bites since I used the medication last night -- but by now I have so many bites it's hard to tell if there are new ones. Is that the main thing I should be looking for?

    Thanks! Sorry this is so long.

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Aug 6 2007 15:20:51
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    The only time you might not see anything -- not even fecal specks-- in my opinion, is in the early stages. When did this start?

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  3. lieutenantdan

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Aug 6 2007 15:47:41
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    Black spots at times are mostly at the harbor site when infestation is low.
    This could be inside a wall or floor or under a wood dresser. It can be hard to locate a skin cast or bug or egg. I found a skin cast once inside my couch under a label another time on top of a garbage can and another time right in front of me on the wood slat of my bed frame.

  4. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Aug 6 2007 18:52:04
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    I think if they are biting you in bed, you will at least sometimes get a black speck in bed (could also be brown, rust, or red). But in early stages bites may be few and far between. It would help to know how many bites occured and in what period.

  5. yikes

    newbite
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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 12:21:11
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    Thanks for the help! This is the sequence of events as far as bites are concerned:

    Friday a.m. 8/3
    - wake up with about 40 bites on left arm + 20 on underside of right -- have so many bites on left arm it's almost like a rash
    - go to sleep that night covered up entirely except for hands and neck/face

    Saturday
    - wake up with more bites on hands, bites on neck and face (about 15 total)
    - wake up between 3-5 p.m. to look on sheets for bugs -- dont' see anything
    - wash everything, rub down whole room with murphy's oil soap -- dont' see any evidence

    Sunday
    - less bites 1-2 on back
    - went to emergency room -- diagnosed with scabies -- used cream and started taking prednesone and benadryl pills

    Monday
    - felt better -- no new bites
    - went to dermatologist who re-confirmed scabies

    Tuesday (today)
    - feel fine
    - think I MIGHT have a new bite on arm but I can't tell -- I have so many now!! And so paranoid

  6. lieutenantdan

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 12:44:23
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    yikes,
    We all have gone through this at the beginning. I do not that if you search for pictures of scabies on the web you will find some horrible images. Please see my images on this site in sidebar "bed bug bite photos on flicker" and see if your rash looks anything like mine did.

  7. yikes

    newbite
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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 12:55:12
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    It's frightening... my bites look really like mosquito bites -- which means they match some of the ones that I've seen in the photos.

    The one thing the dermatologist said is that bed bugs move slowly -- and he hasn't seen a case where someone got so many bites from them so fast. For this reason he was convinced that it couldn't be bed bugs. He was saying that the only way I could get so many bites is if bed bugs were just dumped on me or whatever. For all I know he is very misinformed.

    He was also saying that I wouldn't get that many bed bug bites without being able to see a bed bug -- because it would be a really intense infestation.

    It's reassuring he hear him say this... but it sounds like people have had a lot of experience with doctors being woefully misinformed.

  8. yikes

    newbite
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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 12:56:22
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    Another bit of information -- my bites aren't normally in 3's (breakfast, lunch dinner) but they are in lines in some places. It seems like it's just hard to tell.

  9. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 13:04:21
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    Well,
    Having 40 on your arm, and then covering your arm and getting 15 on your face the next night--personally that does not sound like scabies (which the derm can test for btw).
    It's possible that some bed bugs were introduced into your home via a delivery, a visitor, or your own stuff. or possibly bird bug/bat bug or even bird mites have gotten in.

    I'd get the doctor to do a skin scraping for scabies. It's my understanding they can do this and test for certain.

    If it is inconclusive, I'd call a PCO, and try to make this all happen within a day or so?

    You might get a PCO in right away anyway. If you have enough to cause 40 bites in one night, they may actually be able to see something.

    BTW my bites were almost never in groups. However, if you have 40 close enough to look like a rash, maybe they are groups...

  10. lieutenantdan

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 13:06:21
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    Forget about dermatologists, most dermatologists would not know a bed bug bite if they had one.
    My guess and of course it is only a guess given to the fact that we have a crisis in this country, a fast growing epidemic of bed bugs than I say play it safe and call it bed bugs. Get a 10X loupe and flaslight and start to flip over furniture and check out bottoms especially where legs meet floor and look for what appears as tiny white specks of dust. In most cases it will be dust but that is how I found eggs. I used 3M blue painters tape and dabbed at the dust speck so I could get the egg on tape for a better view.
    I believe that they harbor at sites that is what mine did but some did stray.
    You need to try hard to find evidence.

  11. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 13:12:51
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    Okay, but Dan, a definitive test for scabies is a simple skin scraping. If the doc is bent on scabies, why not let him or her scrape some skin? Finding evidence is great but not always so quick and easy.

  12. willow-the-wisp

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 13:31:27
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    Hi yikes …
    Also, I say-- have the scabies test. They also recommend washing all clothing/bedding just as for bed bugs but without all of the plastic wrapping—wrap directly after washing and drying-- anyway..

    What's missing here …. is prior to 8-3-2007

    Had you, in the prior two weeks: lent out clothing? been on a trip? had an new visitor/friend/ multiple or even one encounter? Had you bought new or second hand clothing or furniture--sounds too fast for it to be scabies.
    If in an apt. …
    Do you suspect any neighbors may have treated for bed bugs?

    If so--a bunch of bugs could have come in ... bitten you, and are now hiding in the walls or in the actual bed. Check corners of room right where the wall meets in a “Y”
    Good luck--

    PS scabies often itches much more intensely at night. it rarely swells up like a Mosquito bite--and there is a very thin, grayish trail from where the mite Burroughs under the skin--and then there is a "bite."
    often these bites can form a sort of a ? mark in a straight line. If you look closely in bright light—you’d see the little trail.
    Just dumped on you?
    That's what it seemed like, to me, too!
    Lastly—seen any furniture out on the sidewalk in the last few weeks? Had you moved to a new place?

    Go back at least 2 weeks and think it ALL thru.
    Best

    Willow

    ps--i had scabies and it was misdiagnosed by a few docs. I had it for 3-4 months. I KNOW scabies!
    So--you may have slept on a highly infested item--if it is scabies. No hot showers! only luke warm/cool!

  13. yikes

    newbite
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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 15:44:10
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    This is the background on the last two weeks... but first:

    I asked the derm about the test for scabies to confirm and he said that test wasn't conclusive. That he would see insect parts but not know for sure. He said the test would be just an "academic exercise".

    - I've been travelling in Greece for a month and got back 8/30
    - none of my friends in greece are having any itching
    - my friends who are house sitting for me are not having any itching
    - 2 days before it started I went to a hot tub place here for all women and purchased one of their towels (Im starting to wonder whether this was it)
    - on the way back from Greece I stayed with a friend in NYC who also is not having any itching
    - I don't have any second hand furniture or clothes (new anyway with in last 2 years)
    - I have a dog and I'm going to have her checked for mites today in case that's it. She's not really scratching though and I don't see fleas on her. I keep her on Advantix all the time.

    As you can see, I've been all over the place and definitely could have picked up scabies or bed bugs or whatever travelling.

    I don't see the line that you're talking about on my bites... but they do go in a line with some of the lines curving. I'm seeing the derm again Friday and I guess I feel like I just have to wait and see if I keep getting bites. Maybe if I don't that will mean his hypothesis is right?

    I hesitate to call landlord and get exterminator involved if I don't have to. Maybe I"m just hopeful about the scabies.

    I can't believe I just said that. I'm just eagerly hoping I have scabies. Great.

  14. yikes

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 15:46:53
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    Also, I don't know about my neighbors... I don't see anything suspicious. I can ask them.

  15. nightshirt

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 16:03:52
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    yikes - your luggage could have picked them up in the cargo area of the plane.

  16. lieutenantdan

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Aug 8 2007 13:39:03
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    yikes, My wife was reacting to bed bug bites for a good four months before I had my reaction.

    You can see my images on this sites side bar
    bed bug bite photos on flicker.

  17. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Aug 8 2007 20:52:19
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    The scabies meds may seem to help because they are pyrethrins and you just put them all over you. After a shower or two and new sheets, see how you do. The doc may also say you "still have scabies" and if so, I'd get a skin scraping. If it is bed bugs, you need to get a PCO in ASAP.

  18. willow-the-wisp

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Aug 8 2007 21:54:50
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    Hi ... sounds more like bed bugs--Especially if the bites or marks seem swollen in any way--scabies scab over ore often dry and simultainously ooze from scratching over time... Bed bug bites much more often swell, like bad mosquito bites--not always, but often. This has not been my "somewhat limited experience" with scabies.
    I'd get the PCO in ASAP
    But the FAQS are great! keep reading for more Bed bug specific interventions. Definatley get the PCO in ASAP! All of that traveling...!
    Good luck!

    Willow

  19. yikes

    newbite
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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 15:34:30
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    I just wanted to leave a final follow up post on this... looks like the scabies medicine worked entirely -- no new bites -- nothing. So in the end what I had was scabies... not bed bugs. Just thought I'd add that for the record if people are trying to decide whether they should try the scabies treatment or not. Worked in my case. Good luck to all!

  20. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 16:10:59
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    Great news, Yikes. I will close this thread.


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