Pest Information Bed Bugs vs. Scabies Bites: What’s The Difference? How Can I Tell Them Apart?

Bed Bugs vs. Scabies Bites: What’s The Difference? How Can I Tell Them Apart?

Find a bite on your arm, but aren’t sure if it’s a Scabies bite, or a Bed Bug bite? Find out what they look like, and what the difference is between the two!

Human scabies is a very scary condition that involves parasites that sound like they came from a science fiction movie. However, in real life, they do exist. And your best bet is to make yourself prepared.

Unlike when compared to mosquitoes and fleas, Bed Bugs and Scabies bites are a little bit harder to tell apart. You’ll want to make sure you properly identify your bite, so you can find the best path to treatment.

Here’s our short take on bed bugs vs scabies bites, a quick guide that can help you how to deal with that mysterious rash you’re currently worried about.

Differences in Origin

Bed Bug Bite on Adults Arm
Bed bugs come from inside your bed, while Scabies come more from “unseen” sources.

While a bed bug bite’s origin is obvious, scabies comes from something more “unseen” and sinister. Scabies is caused by microscopic parasites that can make your skin crawl. In fact, these parasites are mites that actually live and breed under human skin.

Sarcoptes scabiei are a type of parasitic arthropod that can dig under your skin and lay eggs there. While they live in your body, they cause your skin to decay slowly, making it extremely itchy along the way.

And while bed bugs are mostly spread when you come in contact with a house or place that’s infested by them, scabies can spread through touching as well as exposure. Skin-to-skin contact and using personal items like clothes, towels and beddings that belonged a person with scabies can make the mites spread to another host.

Differences in Appearance

Scabies Bite on Leg
Scabies bites appear very different from bites that come from a bed bug.

Bed bug bites are characterized by clustered dark red welts. Bite victims mostly get those bumps in groups or lines of three (or more) because of the insect’s unique feeding habit. And while the bites can be very itchy, they can calm down after a few hours and eventually disappear after a few weeks without any treatment.

Meanwhile, according to Everyday Health, scabies normally starts with an itchy rash that looks more like a group pimples. You’ll also notice tiny protruding grey-white lines on your skin. These are usually found in the arms, waists, knees, ankles and in the groin area.

Scabies does not just disappear like bed bug bites do. What happens is that its effects worsen over time. The skin becomes darker and the red patches go give way to scales, yellow crusts, lesions and blisters. Sores also pop up because of severe scratching.

What’s scary about this condition is that according to WebMD, it’s not easy to identify at its early stages. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for the skin to react after an infestation. And it looks so much like pimples or regular insect bites.

Differences in Treatments

Putting Cream on Bed Bug Bite
There are different treatment options for both bed bug bites and scabies.

Typically, you don’t need to see a doctor when you get bitten by bed bugs. In fact, home remedies for the bites will suffice.

For scabies, however, you have to go to your doctor as soon as you see the first symptoms. Everyday Health assures that it’s absolutely treatable though. People with the condition are mostly given antihistamine and permethrin to deal with the itching and the mites.

Overall, when it comes to bed bugs vs scabies bites, the latter is definitely more terrifying. Bed bug bites don’t usually pose a threat, but scabies can ruin lives, not to mention your general health.

So it’s best to be mindful of what happens to your skin. Read a bunch of articles that identify insect bites from other skin conditions, and visit your doctor regularly. In the end, you can save yourself just by being cautious.

Managing Editor & CEO Jack has been writing as a contractor and for businesses for over 10 years. He owns his own home, and has been doing his own pest control since he bought his first house.

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