Bed Bugs vs. Scabies

What's the Difference?

Bed bugs and scabies are both parasitic insects that can cause discomfort and irritation to humans. However, there are some key differences between the two. Bed bugs are small, wingless insects that feed on human blood while we sleep. They are typically found in bedding, furniture, and cracks in walls. On the other hand, scabies is caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin and lay eggs. Scabies is usually transmitted through close physical contact with an infected person or by sharing personal items such as clothing or bedding. While both bed bugs and scabies can cause itching and skin irritation, scabies is known for its intense itching, especially at night. Additionally, scabies can be easily spread to others, making it important to seek treatment promptly.


AttributeBed BugsScabies
Infestation CauseBed bug bites or contact with infested itemsDirect skin-to-skin contact with an infested person
Primary SymptomsItchy, red welts or bumps on the skinIntense itching, especially at night
Common Affected AreasBedding, mattresses, furniture, and cracks in wallsBetween fingers, wrists, elbows, armpits, waistline, and genital area
Visible SignsLive bugs, shed skins, or dark spots on bedding or furnitureRaised, grayish-white or skin-colored burrows
TransmissionThrough infested items or by hitchhiking on clothing or luggageDirect, prolonged skin contact with an infested person
TreatmentProfessional pest control, washing infested items, vacuumingPrescription creams, lotions, or oral medications
PreventionRegular cleaning, inspecting used furniture, sealing cracksAvoiding direct contact with infested individuals, washing bedding regularly

Further Detail


When it comes to pests that can cause discomfort and distress, bed bugs and scabies are two common culprits. While both can infest human homes and cause itching and irritation, they are distinct in their characteristics and behaviors. In this article, we will delve into the attributes of bed bugs and scabies, exploring their appearance, habitat, transmission, symptoms, and treatment options.


Bed bugs are small, flat, and oval-shaped insects that are reddish-brown in color. They measure about 5-7 millimeters in length and have a distinct segmented body. Bed bug nymphs are smaller and lighter in color, making them harder to spot. On the other hand, scabies are caused by tiny mites called Sarcoptes scabiei. These mites are not visible to the naked eye and are approximately 0.2-0.4 millimeters in size. They are translucent and can only be seen under a microscope.


Bed bugs are primarily found in areas where humans sleep or rest, such as beds, mattresses, sofas, and even cracks in walls. They are nocturnal creatures and are attracted to the warmth and carbon dioxide emitted by humans. Bed bugs can also hide in luggage, clothing, and furniture, making it easy for them to spread from one location to another. On the other hand, scabies mites burrow into the upper layer of the skin, creating tunnels where they lay eggs. These mites thrive in warm and humid environments, and their infestations are commonly found in crowded places like nursing homes, prisons, and daycare centers.


Bed bugs are primarily transmitted through infested furniture, clothing, or luggage. They can hitch a ride on unsuspecting individuals and be transported to new locations. Bed bugs do not fly or jump but can crawl relatively quickly. They can also survive for several months without feeding, making it easier for them to spread. On the other hand, scabies mites are usually transmitted through prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an infested person. This can occur during sexual activity, close personal contact, or even by sharing infested bedding or clothing. Scabies is highly contagious, and outbreaks can occur in crowded environments.


Bed bug bites often result in itchy, red welts that may appear in a line or cluster. These bites can be found on exposed areas of the body, such as the face, neck, arms, and legs. Some individuals may develop an allergic reaction to bed bug bites, leading to more severe symptoms. On the other hand, scabies infestations cause intense itching, especially at night. The itching is often accompanied by a rash, which consists of small red bumps or blisters. Scabies rashes commonly appear in the folds of the skin, such as between fingers, wrists, elbows, and genitals.


When it comes to treating bed bug infestations, it is crucial to eliminate the bugs and their eggs from the affected area. This can be achieved through a combination of thorough cleaning, vacuuming, and using insecticides specifically designed for bed bugs. Additionally, washing infested clothing and bedding in hot water can help eradicate these pests. On the other hand, scabies treatment involves the use of prescription topical creams or lotions that kill the mites and their eggs. It is essential to treat all individuals who have come into close contact with the infested person to prevent reinfestation.


While both bed bugs and scabies can cause discomfort and distress, they differ in various aspects. Bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, primarily infest sleeping areas, and are transmitted through infested furniture or clothing. On the other hand, scabies mites are microscopic, burrow into the skin, and are transmitted through prolonged skin-to-skin contact. Understanding the attributes of these pests is crucial in identifying and effectively treating infestations. If you suspect an infestation of either bed bugs or scabies, it is recommended to seek professional help to ensure proper eradication and prevent further spread.

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