This article by Sandra G. Boodman (accessible from SouthCostToday.com) describes the unusual case of a doctor (an infectious disease specialist, no less) who had trouble getting his Norwegian scabies diagnosed by doctors. And yet the fourth dermatologist, Howard Luber, had no trouble identifying the problem. Norwegian scabies, or crusted scabies:
The diagnosis was so obvious, Luber recalled, that his nurse suggested it after taking Robert Clark’s history and looking at the angry, encrusted rash that blanketed nearly every inch of the 64 year old’s body except his face.
Luber’s certainty was all the more surprising because of who the patient was and what he’d endured: A physician who specialized in infectious diseases, Clark had seen numerous doctors, including three dermatologists, immunologists, internists and infectious disease experts, all of whom had been stumped by the cause of his ferocious, uncontrollable itching. He had undergone two skin biopsies and taken countless drugs, but he would still awaken with fingernails bloody from scratching his skin raw. Doctors who had treated him for more than a year couldn’t decide whether his problem was severe eczema, a rare cancer, an unusual fungal infection, an autoimmune disorder or an unspecified allergy.
Norwegian scabies can look like other conditions, but it can also be tested with a skin scraping. It is not usually so difficult to detect. If you suspect scabies, see your doctor for a skin test and treatment.