• Scabies is caused by an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite. Norwegian or crusted scabies is a more severe infestation. Chiggers, in comparison, are the larval stage of the harvest mite.

    Method of Infestation

    Scabies are transmitted from person to person with direct and prolonged contact. Sometimes indirect contact such as the sharing of clothes or bedding can spread the infestation. Chigger infestations happen in the spring while people are gardening or camping in the woods.

    Biting vs. Burrowing

    Chiggers will bite their victim so they can feed, then they drop off and burrow into the ground to mature. Scabies burrow under the first layer of skin and lay their eggs.


    A scabies infestation is treated by a prescription scabicide. Chigger bites can be treated with over-the-counter anti-itch lotions and ointments.

    Time Frame

    If a person has never had scabies before, it could take up to six weeks for symptoms to develop. People who have had scabies before can get symptoms within four days of exposure. Chigger bites become noticeable while the chigger is still feeding.

    Life Span

    Scabies can live for one to two months on a host. If they're not on a host, they usually can't survive more than 72 hours. Adult chigger mites lay their eggs in the spring and the larvae hatch in June and July. By the fall, the larva has matured into an adult that will lay its eggs in the spring.


    Centers for Disease Control: Scabies Fact Sheet

    University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Chiggers

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