Bed bugs bites and fleas bites look very similar. So, when you’re having a bug infestation, you want to know which bug you’re dealing with.
Proper identification of the bug bites can help alleviate the doubts and allow you to embark on the correct treatment.
So, in this guide, I’ve discussed how to differentiate between bed bug bites and flea bites. But first, check the below pictures of bed bugs.
Bed Bug Bites – Bed bug bites will mainly appear on the upper parts of the body especially the arms, hand, neck and face – but can occur on any part of the body.
Flea Bites – Flea bites are usually located on the lower body appendages such as legs, feet and ankles. They can also be found around the waist, under your arms and on skin folds such as armpits.
Bed Bug Bites – Bed bug bites appear as small, red and round bumps which are raised at the center. The bites are itchy and tend to become worse when scratched. Baby bed bugs oval measuring about 0.5 mm.
Sometimes scratching may cause blisters. Bed bug bites appear in clusters or in a linear pattern. That’s because bed bugs crawl on your skin, making several bites before moving to another location.
Flea Bites – Flea bites often appear to be small bumps with red patches around them. Just like bed bug bites, flea bites are itchy and may break when scratched excessively. However, since fleas can jump, their bites tend to be scattered all over your skin.
Skin Reaction to the Bites
Bed Bug Bites – Different people will have varied reactions to bed bug bites depending on the sensitivity of their skin.
While some people show no sign of the bites, others will experience serious allergic reactions. This is usually accompanied by the urge to scratch the bites.
Flea Bites – Flea bites often leave nasty reactions prompting you to scratch the bite repeatedly. This depends on the sensitivity of your skin. Some people will however show no reactions to flea bites.
Do The Bites Cause Infection?
Bed Bugs Bites – Bed bugs bites will not pose any health risk. Although the bite is itchy and causes allergic reactions in some people, it is not known to cause any disease. However, scratching the bites can expose the skin and possibly cause secondary infections.
Flea Bites – Fleas are potential carriers and transmitters of diseases to humans. These include, plague and typhus. They can also transmit “cat scratch fever” to cats which is then transferred to humans. In addition, fleas can host tapeworms. These can find their way into your pets and your family.
How Long Do The Bites Last?
Bed Bug Bites – The time taken by bed bugs bites to heal varies from one person to another. They can last up to two weeks. If your skin is not very sensitive to bed bug bites, you expect the effects of the bite to go way in less than a week. Some people will not experience any symptoms of bed bug bites.
However, if your skin is allergic to bed bug bites, you might experience very serious reactions. The bites become itchy and you can’t resist constant scratching. This leads to blisters that take long to heal.
Flea Bites – Flea bites can take between one day and two weeks to heal depending on the sensitivity of your skin. Most people will not experience any serious reactions to flea bites. In fact the symptoms might go away within one or two days.
If you have quite a sensitive skin, flea bites might result to serious reactions on your skin. The flea saliva left on your skin causes itchiness and swelling. Constant scratching results to serious blisters which might take up to two weeks to heal.
Do the Bites Cause Infections?
If you’re experiencing bug bites on several occasions, then you might be having an infestation. Signs of bed bug or flea infestations include:
Bed Bug Bites
- Blood stains on your bedding or clothes are a sign that bed bugs are biting you.
- Usually, bed bugs bite during the night. If the bites occur during the day, then you could be having a serious infestation.
- If your pets keep on scratching and biting themselves, that could be a flea infestation.
- In severe infestations, pets will even tear their fur or hair.
How to Treat Bites
Both bed bug bites and flea bites can be treated using over-the-counter products to ease the swelling and itchiness. Such products include, Benadryl, hydro-cortisone and calamine. You can use the following home remedies to treat these bites.
Bed Bug Bites
- Make a paste using baking soda and water and apply it on the bite. Allow it to dry and wipe with a wet towel. You can also dab the area with lemon juice or an antiseptic using a cotton ball
- Alternatively, you can wash the affected area with warm water that has been mixed with peppermint, Alka-Seltzer or baking soda. Apply a suitable antiseptic cream.
- Clean the affected skin with soapy water and rub a thin layer of an antiseptic cream.
- Place an ice-pack on the bites to reduce the itchiness and swelling
- You can also wash the area with steeped lavender or black tea and apply aloe vera.
How to Prevent Pest The Bites Anyway!
There are a number of things you can do to avoid or prevent both bed bug bites and flea bites.
1. Preventing Flea Bites
Regular Cleaning – Regularly clean your floor, cushions and other garments with disinfectants.
Steaming and vacuuming can help kill most of the fleas in the house. Use flea foggers if you have a major flea infestation.
Inspecting and Treating Pets for Fleas – Pets are the most likely carriers of fleas in your house. So, it’s very crucial to treat your pets with a flea spray or flea collar.
This can reduce the chances of getting fleas inside the house and hence minimize flea bites. In addition, do a regular inspection on your pets.
Trimming Grass – Pets can collect a lot of fleas when outdoors. So, it is important to trim the grass in your compound. Also, use a flea spray for yard.
Seek Professional Help – If the bites persist even after your own interventions, it’s the high time you contact a professional pest exterminator. He/she will help locate and eradicate the fleas.
2. Preventing Bed Bug Bites
Regular Cleaning – Clean your house regularly including the floor and upholstery. Vacuuming can also save you from bed bug bites. Use steamers to kill bed bugs.
Wash Bedding – Wash your bedding regularly to get rid of bed bugs and their eggs. Dry the bedding in a dryer at high temperature to kill the bed bugs.
Minimize Clutter – Cluttered clothing and items provide good avenues for bed bugs to hide. Thus, minimizing the clutter can keep these pesky critters at bay. Also, use bed bug mattress encasement.
Regular Inspection – You can do a regular check to make sure bed bugs are not living with you. Check your mattress and the areas near your bed such as headboard. Use a flashlight to enable you see through small cracks.
Contact a Pest Exterminator – Don’t wait for the bed bug problem to get worse. If the bites don’t seem to be going away, call a professional pest exterminator. They can help in correctly locating the bed bugs and eradicating them.
Risk Factors for the Bites
1. Flea Bites
- Failure to treat your pets and their house for fleas. Constant interaction with your infested pets.
- Entering a pest house that has not been treated for fleas.
2. Bed Bug Bites
- Bringing old furniture in your house especially beds. If you live in an apartment where there has been a bed bug infestation, bed bugs might crawl to your room and bite you.
- You have recently returned from a trip. You might acquire them from your college room. Sleeping or sitting on abandoned mattresses or furniture.
You have seen that bed bug bites and flea bites exhibit some notable differences. With this knowledge, it is possible to know the type of bug you’re dealing with. This will help you apply the correct eradication or prevention remedies.