If you suspect you have bed bugs or scabies, it’s important that you quickly identify the pest. Both require immediate professional treatment. Pest control experts are necessary to kill bed bugs while only a doctor or dermatologist can eliminate scabies. Here are some simple ways you can tell the difference between a bed bug infestation and a scabies outbreak.

What are the differences between bed bug bites and scabies bites?

Both bed bugs and scabies feed on your blood, one from outside and one from inside your body.

Bed bugs use their specially developed mouth to suck your blood and then scurry off to their hiding spots. Scabies burrow underneath your skin to feed and lay eggs.

Bed bugs are small and extremely adept at hiding, but you can spot them without a microscope.

Scabies are microscopic parasites called human itch mites. You won’t be able to see them with the naked eye, even while they mate on your skin.

Bed bug bites vs. scabies bites

Bed bug bites are raised, flat red welts, typically appearing three in a row. Scabies burrows appear as grayish-white, raised lines. They eventually turn into red, inflamed bumps called papules and can fester. At the onset of a scabies infestation, the bites can look similar to bed bug bites.

Without scabies treatment, yellow crusting, scaling and skin lesions will take over large patches of your body as the infestation under your skin grows. Scabies lay between two and three eggs inside your body every day. These mites hatch, burrow out of your skin, mate and then burrow back into your skin to lay even more eggs.

Without bed bug treatment, new bites will continue to appear (but generally not worsen in appearance unless infection is present) as the infestation in your home grows. A bed bug can lay between two and five eggs daily.

Bed bugs bite skin that is exposed during sleep, especially where the sheet or mattress meets the body. Bites typically occur around the shoulders, arms, legs, back and face.

Scabies prefer to dig into warm, moist folds of skin. They typically burrow between the fingers and toes, in armpits, under nail beds and around the waist and other sensitive areas.

First-time scabies victims develop a rash and itching two to six weeks after exposure. If you’ve had scabies before, it only takes between one and four days. Bed bug bites can appear in a day or two, but might also take a couple of weeks to surface.

Scabies typically produce a more intense itching, especially at night. This often leads to open sores and infections, though this can happen with bites from either bed bugs or scabies.

If you suspect bed bugs or scabies and are concerned about a skin reaction, seek medical advice. If you are concerned about ridding your home of bed bugs for good, call Terminix®.