Flea Bites Vs Bed Bugs

The first step you need to take when getting rid of bugs is finding out exactly what you are dealing with. This, however, can be a big challenge as there are many different types of bugs that can cause a bite. While distinguishing flea bites from bed bug bites can be difficult, there are certain clues that can help you tell the difference between the two.

Flea bites vs. Bed bug bites

Flea bites

Typically, fleas are found on pets like cats and dogs, but they can also be found on many animals within the home. They have special mandibles that they use to cut through the skin in order to suck blood from their host. While flea bites can be easily confused with spider bites, ant bites, or skin allergies, one simple way to differentiate between these bites is to examine the bite itself. A bite that leaves two puncture marks is most likely from a spider or an ant while a bite that leaves a single puncture mark is most likely from a flea.

Symptoms of flea bites

Flea bites are associated with several symptoms. Here are some of them:

  • A red, swollen spot that appears on your skin about 30 minutes after the bite
  • The affected spot turns red and begins to itch
  • The wound may turn into a blister within 2 days of the bite
  • Persistent itching can cause bleeding and eventual infection on the bite spot
  • In rare cases, individuals with flea bite allergies can experience breathing difficulty, hives, and chest pain

Bed bug bites

Bed bug bites tend to be more difficult to identify because they look a lot like mosquito bites. In fact, it is quite easy to mistake bed bug bites for allergic reactions and administer the wrong treatment. Unlike fleas, bed bugs are much easier to spot because they are larger. That said, in order to identify bed bug bites, you have to understand that these parasites are nocturnal and are most likely to come out and bite after dark.

Symptoms of bed bug bites

  • Similar to mosquito bites with a red swelling on the bite area
  • Typically located on the face, neck, hands, and arms
  • Forms a straight pattern in three or more rows
  • The bites itch and may develop inflammation
  • In severe cases, blisters may develop in the area of the bite

Health risks associated with flea and bed bug bites

Besides the rare allergic reaction, flea and bed bug bites can be very irritating. According to a study carried out by Penn Medicine researchers, bed bugs can be vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasite that causes Chagas disease. This is one of the most prevalent and dangerous diseases in the Americas.

Flea bites are equally worrisome since these parasites are known carriers of plague, tapeworms, and typhoid. That said, the biggest health risk associated with flea bites would be an infestation that is combined with a cat since fleas are known to transmit a medical condition referred to as cat scratch fever. A scratch from an infected cat can cause swelling of the lymph nodes, loss of appetite, headaches, and sore throat. The condition can worsen if you have a weak immune system.

Both flea and bed bug bites can be very itchy. And constant itching can break the skin exposing you to other infections. Additionally, marks left behind by flea and bed bug bites can greatly dent your skin. Finally, since they bite at night, bed bug infestation can deprive you of a peaceful sleep.

Treating flea and bed bug bites

Many over-the-counter ointments and medications are available that you can use to treat the swelling and itchiness that results from flea and bed bug bites.

When treating flea bites, start by washing the affected area with soapy water before applying an antiseptic cream. You can relieve the swelling and itchiness by rubbing the bite area with an icepack. Avoid applying excessively hot water in the affected area as this can aggravate itchiness.

Over-the-counter creams and medications that you can use to treat itchiness and swelling include:

  • Calamine
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Benadryl

Do not apply creams onto spots with open wounds or sores.

Home remedies that you can use to treat flea and bed bugs include:

  • Applying aloe vera on the bite spot
  • Resisting the urge to scratch the bite areas as much as you can
  • Cleaning the bite area with green tea, black tea, or steeped lavender.

For bed bug bites, you can apply a baking soda paste to the affected area and allow to dry before rinsing with water after about one hour. You can also dab the bite area with a cotton ball soaked in lemon juice or St. John's Wort. Another remedy is taking a warm bath infused with powdered oatmeal, peppermint oil, Alka-Seltzer, or baking powder.

Preventing flea and bed bug bites

Here are preventive measures you can take to keep fleas and bed bugs at bay.

  • Take garlic as fleas are known to be repelled by garlic
  • Prepare a citrus-infused spray and spray your ankles, legs, and arms
  • Dab or spray essential oils like lavender onto your legs and ankles
  • Place a glass of water with apple cider vinegar on locations where fleas are most problematic. This concortion with attract and trap fleas.
  • Regularly treat your pets for fleas
  • Regularly vaccum your living space
  • Wash your pets on a regular basis
  • Tape up any holes appearing on your mattress and bed frame
  • Wrap your mattress in a protective casing
  • Get rid of clutter around your bed
  • Inspect your clothing and luggage everytime you are returning from a trip
  • Get rid of infested bedding
  • Regularly wash your bedding
  • If everything else fails, call a pest control expert

Following these preventive measures can lower the risk of flea and bed bug infestation.

Flea bites vs. Bed bug bites: Final word

Flea bites and bed bug bites can be very upsetting. Just the thought of tiny insects crawling on your body and sucking your blood can be very irritating. Fleas are tiny parasites that are commonly found on household pets like cats and dogs. Bed bugs, on the other hand tend to dwell within openings in the bed or holes on the mattress. Proper diagnosis and treatment of flea and bed bug bites is important if you want to overcome potential health hazards caused by these parasites.