Before we delve into the differences between bed bug bites and scabies let us see the main points of similarity between the two. Both, bed bug bites and scabies can cause itchy rashes on human skin and, in both conditions, the itchiness is usually worse at night time.
Let us study bed bug bites and scabies in detail.
Bed bug bites: Signs and Symptoms
Bed bugs are small parasites that feed on human blood. They require blood meals to grow and reproduce. They typically hide during the daytime near sleeping areas like beds, couches etc. At night, they are drawn by the heat and carbon dioxide emitted by the human hosts. (In absence of humans, bed bugs might can bite the pets like cats, dogs etc).
Often, some individuals might not develop any symptoms due to bed bug bites. However, others may be allergic to the protein in the saliva of the bugs and, as a result, they might develop one or more of the following symptoms:
- Red, itchy welts on the skin
- The bitten area might appear swollen. The epicenter of the bite is surrounded by a red halo.
- Bites are usually seen in a linear pattern, as the bed bugs do not fly or jump.
- Typically, bed bug bite marks appear in groups of three or four. Bites usually occur on exposed parts of the body like neck, arms, legs, back, shoulders etc.
- Bed bug bites can get very itchy at times. Scratching should be avoided else the bite can get infected.
Apart from bite marks, people dealing with a bed bug infestation might spot reddish or rust colored stains on their mattresses, or around the corners of the bedding. This is the discarded exoskeleton or fecal matter left behind by the bed bugs.
Scabies: Signs and Symptoms
Scabies is a contagious skin condition and, in humans, it is caused by the Sarcoptes scabies humanis mite. These require an incubation period of 2 to 6 weeks, following which, an itchy rash might be developed. The itching is particularly worse at nighttime. Different skin eruptions are often seen in scabies:
- Burrows- These are characteristic lesions in scabies. They are made by adult female mites for laying eggs under the human skin. These might not always be present.
- In infants, scabies rashes can develop into papules, urticaria, lesions etc.
Scabies mites tend to target certain parts of the body, namely: the areas under the finger or toenails, on the wrists, feet, between the fingers and toes etc.
Summary: Bed Bug Bites vs Scabies
|Bed Bug Bites||Scabies|
|Bed bug bites occur in linear patterns in groups of three to four marks||Scabies can be spread over a greater surface area.|
|Bed bug bites are usually seen on arms, legs, back, neck, shoulders etc||Scabies rashes are seen on feet, between fingers and toes, under the toenails etc|
|These are characterized by red, swollen bumps or weals||These are usually white or red lines or burrows on the skin|
|Bed bugs do not live on human hosts. They return to their hiding spot after completion of a blood meal||Scabies mites tend to lay eggs and live in the burrows they make on the skin|
|Bed bug infestations need to be treated with pesticides or heat treatment.||Scabies rashes need permethrin and other medicated topical skin creams for treatment.|
|Bed bugs are not contagious but they can spread from household to household through luggage, clothing, or discarded infested furniture etc.||All family members need to be treated with medicated skin creams, since scabies can spread due to sharing of infected towels, bed sheets etc.|