When small red bumps primarily occur on the belly, they usually are caused by an environmental factor. An allergic reaction to clothing may cause the rash or you may have picked up scabies from another person carrying the bugs. Often, the irritation clears without any medical intervention, but symptoms such as itching and soreness may be relieved with treatments from a dermatologist.
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Small bugs called mites can burrow under the skin and cause scabies. According to UAB Medicine, scabies are highly contagious and usually passed on when you come in close contact with another person carrying the infestation. The bugs also can be transferred from bedding and clothing to other people. Scabies cause intense itching and are most prevalent in children and young adults.
The bugs that cause scabies usually find warm, moist places to burrow, according to UAB Medicine. In children under 2 years old, the mites tend to burrow in the neck, palms, head and soles of the feet. Older children and young adults may see the appearance of the small red bumps around their belly buttons or their waistline. Scabies also can appear between fingers and toes, on the thighs and in the groin area.
The tiny bugs that cause scabies are so small they are rarely evident to the naked eye. Doctors may take a skin sample of one of the red bumps to diagnose the cause under a microscope. In addition to the red bumps on the belly, severe itching can indicate the presence of the mites. According to UAB Medicine, when scabies advances, it creates crusty or scaly skin around the bumps. Scratching the bumps can cause additional sores in the area.
The entire body must be treated with a medicated solution to eradicate the bugs. The bugs can move to other areas of the body if the whole body isn't treated. Once the medication is applied, the red bumps disappear within about four weeks. Everyone living with the infected person should be treated as well and clothing and bedding must be washed to stop the spread of scabies, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
People most at risk for developing scabies include children in daycare and their parents, as well as young people who engage in sexual contact. Elderly people in nursing homes often develop the bumps on their bellies. In nursing facilities, the condition often goes unnoticed because it mimics other skin disorders such as dermatitis or bedsores. The longer the mites go untreated, the more people become infected, including staff who come in close contact with patients.