The Difference Between Bed Bug Bites And Scabies

Scabies and bed bug bites: neither are pleasant to think about nor are they something you’ll want to brag about. However, waking up from your slumber to itchy, uncomfortable red spots on your skin is something you’ll want to get to the bottom of quickly.

That’s why in this blog we’ll go over what exactly bed bugs and scabies are, how to differentiate which one is plaguing you, and what your next steps should be.

What Are Scabies?

First things first, there is a pretty big difference between scabies and bed bug bites. One is well, a bite, that you get from an insect that has made your house their home. Scabies on the other hand, is an infestation of human itch mites (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis) on your actual skin.

Scabies mites are microscopic and can burrow into the upper layer of your skin, where they live and lay their eggs. Eek!

Common symptoms of scabies include pimple-like skin rashes and intense itching. Scabies are usually contracted from prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a person who is infected with scabies. In adults, scabies is often spread through intimate partners or household members, as it requires prolonged contact.

Scabies can be found across the world, similarly to bed bugs. Additionally, just like bed bugs, crowded institutions such as prisons, hospitals, childcare facilities, nursing homes and extended care facilities are often common locations for scabies outbreaks to occur.  

It’s important to note that if you are immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system), you may not develop the same rash that others would. Immunocompromised people are more likely to develop what is known as crusted scabies. Crusted scabies is thick crusts of skins that develop on your body that contain large numbers of scabies eggs and scabies mites. Crusted scabies spreads much easier than regular scabies. If you develop crusted scabies, it’s important to receive prompt and aggressive treatment.

Common Symptoms Of Scabies:

  • Extreme itchiness
  • Pimple-like rashes
  • Rashes are usually constrained to one area and are commonly found on wrists, elbows, armpits, webbing between fingers, waist, beltline and/or buttocks
  • Rash can sometimes include small blisters or skin sores that can then become infected
  • Occasionally, tiny burrows can be seen on the skin appearing as tiny raised, greyish-white or skin-coloured lines
  • Rashes in infants are often seen on the head, face, palms, soles or neck

How To Treat Scabies

If you’ve never had scabies before, it can take a long period from time of the initial infestation for symptoms to appear. Symptoms can take 4-8 weeks to show, however even without displaying symptoms, you can pass scabies onto others.

If you’ve already had scabies once before, symptoms will appear much quicker the second or third time around. You will likely show symptoms within 1-4 days of exposure.

Different from bed bugs, scabies does not require a bed bug exterminator to solve the problem. It actually doesn’t require a pest control specialist of any kind. Scabies is treated medically, requiring creams and lotions, such as permethrin. However, before running out to your local drug store to pick up lice remover, it’s important you get your scabies infestation properly diagnosed by a medical professional, as your rash may be the result of something else. Additionally, proper scabicides require a doctor’s prescription.

It’s important that you follow all the instructions on the medication and wear clean clothes while applying the medication, so scabies infested clothes cannot re-infest you. Do not use scabicide intended for agricultural or veterinary use on humans.

If you live with anyone else, it’s important that other members of your household also use the medicated creams, even if they’re not yet showing symptoms. It’s important to eradicate all of the infestations at once, so they don’t continue to spread throughout your household.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown insects that feed on humans and animals. They are quite small, 4 to 5 mm long or about the size of an apple seed and are extremely good at hiding from the human gaze. They often hide in cracks and crevices of mattresses, beds, headboards, bed frames and any other objects around your bed during the day, sneaking out at night to feed on humans’ blood. A meal for a bed bug usually takes about three to ten minutes, leaving the human or animal host with an inflamed and itchy bite.

Generally, bed bugs only live for four to six months, however they can live up to five years and go months without feeding. The main issue with bed bugs is that you’ll never have just one, or even two. A female bed bug can lay anywhere between 200 to 500 eggs in their lifetime. Eggs hatch in seven days, fully developing in 21 days.

Bed bugs cannot fly, but they can move very quickly over ceilings, walls or floors. However, bed bugs usually travel from place to place on clothing, bedding, furniture and other fabrics or soft materials. They do not live in nests, instead hiding in crevices in groups of bugs.


Identifying Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites are characterized by harsh red bumps in groups of three or four on the arms, back, shoulders and/or neck. Unlike scabies, bed bugs don’t live on the human body, but nest in hiding places near couches and sofas where they can sneak up on unsuspecting blood bags (re: you).

When you call in an expert bed bug exterminator like Terminix Canada, they’ll be getting rid of bed bugs either by using safe, ethical pesticides or a totally non-chemical bed bug heat treatment.

Common Symptoms Of Bed Bugs:

  • Blood stains on your pillows or sheets
  • Dark or rusty coloured spots on your sheets, mattress, clothes or walls
  • Fecal spots, egg shells or shed skin in hiding spots (sheets, mattresses, bed frames, etc.)
  • A musty odour that bed bugs excrete

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

  • Itchiness
  • Inflammation
  • A burning or painful sensation
  • Red, itchy bumps with clear centres
  • Small red welts or bumps in a zig zag or line pattern
  • Red bumps surrounded by hives or blisters
  • Small spots of blood from the bites left on your skin or sheets

While bed bug bites are uncomfortable, they do not regularly harm your health. However, in rare cases, some people may develop serious symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Swollen tongue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea or flu-like symptoms
  • Blisters
  • Difficulty breathing

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly.

How To Treat Bed Bug Bites

Once you’ve figured out that you are suffering from a bed bug infestation instead of scabies, it’s important to act fast. As we’ve stated above, female bed bugs lay many eggs in their lifetimes, so a few bed bugs can quickly turn into a huge infestation which can be difficult to get under control. Call a professional pest control company, like Terminix Canada to quickly and efficiently exterminate bed bugs from your home. Additionally, Terminix Canada will act as a bed bug cleaning service, removing any traces that bed bugs were ever in your home.

Do not rely on DIY bed bug control, as it can only make matters worse and help aid bed bugs in becoming more resistant to traditional bed bug pest control methods. However, here are some steps that you can take to help control your bed bug infestation while you’re waiting for the experts to arrive.

Bed Bug Prevention Tips:

  • Remove any clutter from your home, especially in areas where you strongly suspect bed bugs.
  • Move your bed or mattress away from walls and other furniture.
  • Vacuum every part of your home every day, but you must empty the vacuum bag immediately after cleaning any infested areas of your house. Otherwise, you’re more likely to spread the infestation than you are to fix it.
  • Wash all clothing and bedding in hot water, and then put them in the hot dryer for at least 30 minutes. You should also be washing mattresses and box spring covers.

When dealing with bed bugs, it’s as important to know what not to do as it is to know what to do.

Terminix Canada Bed Bug Exterminators Can Help You

If you have bed bugs, you need affordable and effective professional pest control to quickly fix your bed bug infestation. Terminix Canada utilizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to ensure the problem is taken care of.

On your initial service, our trained and licensed technicians will hunt high and low for any bed bugs or bed bug eggs, documenting all of our findings in a comprehensive inspection report. Using both chemical and steam bed bug treatments, we’ll effectively reach even the tiniest of crevices, ensuring that all bed bugs and their eggs are wiped out.

Usually, only one visit is required from Terminix Canada to properly eradicate your bed bug infestation. However, at your request, we will return to treat the inside of your home again. Terminix Canada 100% guarantees all of our services.

What are you waiting for? Find your local Terminix Canada branch today!