What Is the Difference Between Chiggers & Scabies?

Anyone who has been bitten by chiggers or scabies knows they cause intense itching and discomfort. Chiggers and scabies, however, are two distinct types of mites. They attack humans and animals differently.


Chiggers are small and red, measuring about an eighth of an inch. Scabies, which are only about 1/60 of an inch long, are difficult to see with the unaided eye.


Chiggers live in grass, tall weeds, shrubs and other vegetation; and attack humans who venture into their territory. Humans usually pick up scabies from skin-to-skin contact with an infested person or from infested clothing or linens.


Both chiggers and scabies feed on human blood and fluids. A scabies infestation begins when female adult mites burrow into the skin. Chiggers, however, attack as larvae and feed at the skin's surface.


The large red welts and severe itching of chigger bites appear within three to six hours. Scabies symptoms, including a rash and itching, can take up to a month to appear—the time required for the females to lay eggs that hatch into nymphs.


To prevent chigger bites, stay out of infested areas or apply an insect repellent before going outdoors. Treat bites with anti-itch creams and antihistamines. For scabies, see your physician, who will prescribe an insecticide lotion. Wash clothing and bedding in hot, soapy water.