Bed Bugs vs. Scabies: Which One Is Infesting Your Home?

Both bed bug and scabies feed on the human blood. This makes the infestation difficult to identify since the bites would also have a big similarity. The bed bugs vs. scabies topic is no longer a new discussion as it’s been haunting many households for the past years. It’s important to set an identifier on this one as both have health threats that will require different treatment approaches. Also, the process of extermination would differ.

The fact that scabies has tiny bodies adds up to the problem. Bed bugs have the same body size but when you look closer, you can actually see the difference. Here are some of the disparities between the two.

Physical appearance

First of all, the bed bug is a bug and scabies is a mite. Physically speaking, bed bugs have flat bodies that are usually red for adults and almost transparent for the nymphs. They can be seen with the naked eye and can be swat at first glance.

When it comes to scabies, it gets a little tricky. Scabies are microscopic and it can penetrate and lay eggs on the skin of the host. This will cause rashes and infections if not treated right away. This insect is an eight-legged parasite that has a monstrous appearance if placed under a microscope. Most of the time, scabies can stay on the skin and lay eggs, unlike bed bugs that will crawl away once it’s done sucking blood. So bed bugs vs. scabies. Scabies is the scarier one.

Feeding habit

Both scabies and bed bugs feed on blood. They leave itchy bites but in very different ways. Bed bugs have a special beak that it uses to sip the blood off the human skin. After it’s done for the day’s meal, it will pull the beak and leave histamines on its saliva. This is what causes the itchiness.

When it comes to scabies, the pest would have to burrow itself on the skin of their host. It doesn’t have a special bodily structure to suck blood. Once it’s inside the body, scabies feed, lay eggs, and harbor for a long time. To sum it up, bed bugs feed on the outside while the scabies feed from the inside. About which one is scarier, it’s up to you to decide.

bed bugs vs. scabies


Although bed bug bites are easy to confuse with scabies, there’s actually an easy way to separate it. Bed bugs bite in individual spots, meaning that it will leave welts on the skin that would look like reddish, round rashes. Meanwhile, it’s hard to see the individual bites of scabies. It’s usually seen as a red patch of swollen skin as if it forms burrows. At first, it would look like gray lines but it will soon turn red and unbearably itchy once scabies starts to propagate and feed on your blood all at the same time. In the bed bugs vs. scabies matter, the latter is the most irritating.

You might need to help of an expert to magnify the bites of scabies and see individually how it looks like. And from what I know, it’s not at all beautiful.

Continuous skin irritations

Bed bug bites itch faster and you might feel it the next morning when you see the red welts on your skin. For some, it may take some days and weeks before the itchiness starts to be evident. Scabies, on the other hand, would take about two to six weeks for hosts who are being infested for the first time. The scabies is yet to bury themselves on the skin before starting to feed and reproduce.

If you had a scabies infestation in the past, it might only take about four days for the itchiness to be evident. This is the reason why it’s sometimes easy to confuse scabies bites with bed bug bites.

Treatment approaches

Bed bug bites can easily be addressed with the use of calamine lotions or ointments. If the bites are becoming too itchy, a medical expert can prescribe an oral antihistamine and the irritation would soon wear off.

In the case of scabies, a serious dermatological approach has to be done together with the extermination in the household where the host contracted the pest. This is because bed bugs live inside the host’s skin and it has to be removed, unlike bed bugs that will crawl away after feeding off from the human.

Bed bugs vs. scabies in terms of harborage

More often, scabies live in the skin of its host that’s the reason why it’s regarded as a skin disease. They usually prefer the elbow, wrist, nipples, armpit, buttocks, fingers, and the genitals. This is the same case with babies that are also prone to the infestation. Sometimes, scabies can stay on the furniture near the host but it will soon crawl to the skin to start its harborage.

Bed bugs are less evil. These nocturnal beings would be thieves in the night that will steal a few drops of your blood then crawl back to its hiding place. The most common bed bug hideouts are the bed box spring, mattress, alarm clock, electrical outlets, sofa, carpet, and anything that’s near the sleeping area of the host.

bed bugs vs. scabies


Scabies is highly contagious and when a person infected is being treated, other members of the household has to be treated as well. This is because scabies can be transferred through sharing of towels and clothes, skin-to-skin contact for an extended period, sexual intercourse and any intimate contact.

Meanwhile, bed bugs are not at all contagious and they don’t spread diseases. The only thing that should be addressed in the bites is the itchiness that may induce incessant scratching. The damage to the fabric is also another thing.

Identifying bed bugs vs. scabies is easy if you know these things. It’s important to diagnose the infestation so you can acquire necessary treatment especially in the case of scabies. Also, don’t forget to remove the pest from your household as this would stop future infestations and health problems.