Difference Between Scabies and Bed Bugs

Scabies vs Bed Bugs

Sometimes people do not prefer to admit the presence of these arthropods in their households, due to the fact that it would be considered as a disgrace. However, the consequences of the presence of either scabies or bed bugs could be a real worry, especially on the skin of humans in different ways. The impacts, modes of infestations, and taxonomy are different between scabies and bed bugs. This article intends to discuss those differences between them concisely but precisely.


Scabies is a serious infection of a microscopic mite, Sarcoptes scabiei, which affects the skin of humans and other mammals. An infestation of scabies causes intense itching, which is allergic. The mite found in animals other than humans is the Sarcoptic Mange. Although the WHO classifies this as a water-bourne disease, scabies mites can transmit into another host through direct skin contacts, as well. Scabies is a serious problem, as it starts to show symptoms within 24 hours from the time of infection with possibilities of continuous exposure. If there were no continuous exposure to infection, the symptoms would take up to six weeks to show symptoms; meanwhile the infected mites are incubated and maximized their numbers.

Scabies is a parasite that enters through the skin and lays eggs beneath the skin. The infestations cause small wart-like appearance on the skin, as they make burrows inside the skin. This tunnel-making process causes the host to scratch the skin, which could lead into secondary infections of germs; hence, it could be serious eventually. There are scabies creams that can be applied topically to remove the infestations. Despite their danger in infestations, the removal measures are not very expensive. If proper care is not given, the skin rashes could develop into skin lesions and crusted scabies.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are external parasites of mammals, and they have been classified under the Order: Hemiptera and Family: Cimicidae. There are more than 30 species of bed bugs described under 22 species. They are blood-sucking insects, and the most infamous of all those species is the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius. Bed bugs prefer to inhabit beds, chairs, and any place where people use to rest for a long time.

These light brown or reddish brown coloured insects are about 4 – 5 millimetres in length and 1.5 – 3 millimetres in width. They do not have hind wings, but the front wings have been modified into pad-like structures. Their overall body shape is ovular, and it is dorsoventrally flattened. Their maxilla and mandibles have been developed into piercing and sucking mouthparts that enable them to feed on mammalian blood. With one diet of blood, an individual can live up to a year without feeding. It irritates the skin when they bite the skin to suck blood. Their bites can cause skin rashes and allergic reactions, but sometimes those can lead up to psychological effects, as well.

Bed bugs perform their sexual breeding through traumatic insemination, and hundreds of eggs are laid, and one individual goes through six moults before becoming an adult. These nuisance insects could be controlled through insecticides or natural predators. However, nowadays, there are trained dogs to spot these bugs. When the infestation of bed bugs is high in a household or a building, the expenses to pest control would be very high.

What is the difference between Scabies and Bed Bugs?

• Scabies is a disease caused on the skin by a mite, whereas bed bug is a hemipteran blood-sucking external parasite of warm-blooded animals.

• Bed bugs are much larger than the scabies mites are.

• Human scabies is caused by Sarcoptes scabiei, while other related mite species act on other animals; on the other hand, any of the 30 species of bed bugs can bite on the skin of any warm-blooded animal.

• Scabies make tunnels or burrows inside the host skin, but bed bugs bite the host skin.

• Scabies is dispersed through skin contact usually, whereas bed bugs disperse through hosts into new places.

• Scabies infestations could be more serious than bed bug bites.

• Both are pests, but scabies removing costs much less than bed bug controlling.