Updated: May 25
Alas, the first sign of a scabies outbreak is likely to be bite marks. However, one of the first problems you’ll encounter is trying to determine whether the cause of your problem is scabies or bed bugs. A scabies outbreak can be hard to differentiate from bed bug infestations because scabies bites and bed bug bites look similar. They are, however, very different critters:
How Bed Bugs Are Different from Scabies
While bed bugs feed on your blood from outside, scabies do it inside of your body. Unlike bed bugs, which will suck your blood from atop your skin, scabies will tunnel under your skin to feed and lay eggs. Add to that the fact that scabies are microscopic in size and you can see (or, actually, you can’t see) the extent of the problem.
Here's what scabies look like up close:
How to Identify Scabies Bites
While bed bug bites do resemble scabies, they are different. Scabies is generally rash-like in appearance and tends to itch more at night. However, their biting and burrowing don’t occur at any particular time of the day or night. And the resultant itching can be located almost anywhere including your wrists, joints, fingers and back.
Plus, unlike bed bugs bites, scabies burrows look like grayish-white, raised lines. Scabies mites tunnel under the skin to lay eggs, which causes that intense itching. Unfortunately, once those eggs hatch, worse is to come: the resultant larvae burrow right back into the skin, causing even greater irritation.
To get rid of scabies, you have to take action immediately. Scabies mites are highly contagious, and if you have had prolonged contact with someone who is infected, there’s every likelihood that you could become infected. If you suspect that you’re the victim of a scabies you should visit your doctor right away.
Here's How to Get Rid of Scabies in 5 Easy Steps
Consult your physician. Before you even think about a scabies treatment for your home you should visit your doctor ̶ immediately. Contrary to popular belief, over-the-counter and home remedies cannot treat scabies infestations with any degree of certainly. Any good doctor will only need to see the rash to identify the condition. She or he might also take a skin sample by scraping under the bumps in order to verify that mites and eggs are present. Once you’ve been diagnosed, your doctor will usually prescribe a mite-killing cream or lotion.One important point for female readers: if you think you are pregnant ̶ or have any serious illness or other severe skin diseases, tell your doctor right away.
Remove clutter. You can find scabies mites almost anywhere - in piles of newspapers and discarded papers, bedding, carpets, air ducts, dusty attics, even lampshades and dirty laundry. Scabies mites are also drawn to crowded environments, such as nursing homes, day care centers and college dormitories. Because these pests can hide almost everywhere, the first thing you should do as part of your scabies mite treatment is de-clutter your house or office. Remove all those unwanted newspaper and magazines, clean those air ducts and vacuum that dusty attic or cobwebby basement.
Clean carefully. If you really want to prevent a scabies reinfestation after treatment (and who doesn’t?), it's imperative that you clean your home the same day you applied the scabies mite treatment. The fact is that a scabies mite can live for one to three days once they’ve been removed from a human (or animal) body. A thorough cleaning will help ensure that any remaining mites are killed. Plus, you should also disinfect floors and bathroom surfaces by mopping. Then, vacuum all your floors, carpets, and rugs and discard the bag in an outside garbage container right away.
Treat all inanimate objects with disinfectant spray. Sterifab is proven to be one of the best way to get rid of scabies. Best of all, in addition to being an effective scabies treatment, but is also highly successful in killing bed bugs, and getting rid of ticks, fleas, and a host of other insects.
Wash all sheets and bedding in HOT water. To get rid of scabies mites you should wash your bedding in hot water (130 - 140 degrees) at least once a day, until you have not seen signs of the nasty critters for at least a week. Be sure to wear disposable gloves when stripping beds to help prevent the scabies mites from re-invading the affected area.
Once you’ve washed the bedding you should either put it in a hot dryer or hang it on a clothesline in direct sunlight. Dry cleaning is also an option, but be sure to forewarn the cleaners that you’re trying to get rid of scabies mites.
If you are unable to wash your bedding immediately you should store the soiled linens in an airtight bag for at least 72 hours and a week if possible. You’ll find that the same method also works for stuffed animals, brushes, combs, toys, shoes, coats, pants, skirts, gloves, hats, ponchos, and robes.
Note: When using Sterifab to get rid of scabies, do not spray on wood or finished furniture. To avoid any damage, you should cover wood surfaces while using Sterifab.
Read about how to tell if you have scabies or bed bugs.