Scabies Vs Bed Bugs

Scabies Vs. Bed Bugs: Identification & Treatment

Bedbugs and scabies are parasites that’ll bite and prey on humans. So, what are the differences between scabies vs. bed bugs – and how to kill them

In summary, bedbugs are ovular light brown parasites that measure about 4 to 5 mm in length and 1.5 to 3 mm in width.

But, scabies is caused by small mites whose bites appear as tiny white dots. Scabies bites cause a red rash (that appears in a line) and Intense itching. 

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Similarities: Scabies Vs. Bed Bugs: Identification & Treatment 


Both bedbug bites and scabies bites are itchy.  

This is due to the presence of two chemicals in their saliva. An anticoagulant stops blood from clotting and Anesthetic chemicals, which leaves a numb feeling preventing the bite from itching for a few seconds.

For scabies mites, the itch is caused by the parasite burrowing through your skin, and since it’s under the top layer of your skin, you cannot scratch it away.

2. Appearance

Both baby bed bug bites have a similar colorBedbug and scabies bites range from pink to red colors and become darker if you consistently scratch them.

3. Clustering 

Both scabies and bedbug bites appear in clusters.

Where they bite, the clustering in scabies bites appears like pink dots mottled against the skin. Given that scabies mites attack in groups, the small dots will be many in one location hence appear as clusters. The scabies bites are clustered more together than bed bug bites.

Similarly, bedbug bites appear in clusters even though bedbugs don’t purposefully bite in clusters; they only go for exposed parts of our body. Given their size, bedbug bite clusters are further apart.

4. Disease Transmission

Both don’t carry infectious diseases. 

Bedbugs feed on one or two people in a single bed for most of their lifespan. This also applies to scabies because they spend most of their life in one person.

The infestation is only spread if the individual mite lived on two or more people; however, it won’t pass any diseases.

Related: Does Dryer Kill Bed Bugs

Differences: Scabies Vs. Bed Bugs 

1. Size

Bedbug Bites: They are large and appear as red raised lumps.

Scabies Bites: They are relatively smaller.

Bedbugs bites swell up because as it feeds, it injects saliva that numbs the area so as it can feed undisturbed.

Given their larger bodies, bedbug bites, therefore, will appear larger. On the other hand, scabies mites start by laying eggs inside our skin then dig in, leaving behind a small dry spot.

The spot is much smaller than a bedbug bite; however, the line that the mite leaves behind is longer. Scabies bites are less raised than bedbug bites due to the histamine that swells the bite.

2. Where they bite.

Scabies bites: scabies mites can affect any part of the body.

Bedbug bites: Bedbugs only bite exposed areas.

Given their small size, scabies mites can crawl almost everywhere without our notice. However, they tend to prefer attack parts with folded skin typical to become sweaty or damp.

These parts are between fingers and toes, palms, wrists, ankles, armpits, breasts, or around the groin.

Bedbugs, however, are bigger, and this hinders their mobility, limiting where they can bite us. They, therefore, only bite exposed areas that mostly are arms and legs.

Bedbugs also bite your side that gets in conduct with the mattress. Bedbugs’ priority is to the first feast on the exposed part of your body and not explore different places to bite.

3. Symptoms 


  • Red, Itchy Bites. You will experience a strong feeling of itchiness, irritation, and scratching them can lead to bleeding.
  • The appearance of red welts in the zigzag line is also a key sign of their presence.
  • Uncomfortable nights could be another sign of bedbug infestation given they are most active at night when humans are with them sleeping.
  • Arms and shoulders, which are usually most exposed during the night, will have marks – they’ll hide in bed frames, old furniture or crevices, and cracks. (forms after prolonged itching and scratching)
  • You will smell strong; unpleasant must odor almost similar to that of a wet towel when getting close to the bedbugs.


  • Intense itching is the main symptom. It is characterized by a red rash that looks like tiny red bumps on close examination.
  • The itchy feeling is more intense in warmer areas like in between your fingers, wrists, armpits, breasts, among others.
  • Scabies bites appear in a line and start to show after two to six weeks after infestation.

3. Where they Breed

Scabies: they burrow into our skin, ensuring safety as you can’t scratch or squash them.

Bedbugs: Live inside your bed or bedding.

Bedbugs cannot live on you, given they are too big and would easily fall off. Their legs also won’t grip into skin-tight enough, leaving them vulnerable.

They, therefore, stay underneath the mattress or other places within the bedding. However, scabies mites can burrow beneath our top skin, making it safe because we can’t quickly get them out.

4. Visibility

Bedbugs: visible to the naked eye.

Scabies: not easily visible unless using a magnifying object.

Bedbugs are more prominent and can be seen easily with a naked eye. However, they mostly come out at night to feed can rarely be seen during the day unless you look for them.

Scabies mites are microscopic and will require the aid of a microscope to see. Their light coloration makes it very difficult to see them with a naked eye. Their nature of burrowing underneath our skin also makes it impossible to see.

5. Length of time to develop symptoms

Scabies bites: first-time victims develop a rash and itching 2-6 Weeks after a bite.

Bedbug bite: appears within a day or two.

It takes between two to six weeks for a scabies bite to show for first-time victims. It, however, takes only between two to five days for those who’ve had scabies before.

Bedbug bites take a day or two at most to appear. In some rare cases, they might take a couple of weeks to surface.

Prevention: Bed bugs vs. Scabies 

1. Scabies 

– Avoid direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Also, refrain from sharing items like beddings and clothing with infested people.

– Ensure clothing and beddings that have come into contact with the infestation must be thoroughly machine washed to get rid of it.

– The room of a patient diagnosed with crusted scabies must be vigorously cleaned and vacuumed or steamed.

2. Bedbugs 

Inspect all used couches, bedding, or furniture for signs of bed bugs before bringing them inside the house.

– If needed, hire a pest extermination professional or use sprays carefully according to the label directions.

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