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What Does a Bed Bug or Flea Bite Look Like on Humans?

What Does a Bed Bug or Flea Bite Look Like on Humans?

There are few things more disturbing than waking up after a restful night’s sleep to find a variety of bug bites or red bumps all along your body. Even worse, the bugs might decide it is a good idea to target our kids. These pests should know better than to mess with us, but it is all over when they go for our children.

Then again, they do suck human blood, so maybe logic isn’t their strong suit. Either way, getting revenge on these little bloodsuckers always starts with one thing: knowledge.

Knowing what you are up against is the best way to ensure getting rid of them is both speedy and final. After all, if any of these insects are left behind, they could easily create another infestation.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell what type of bug is causing your family’s current itchiness, especially when they have similar patterns. Two insects, in particular, are common household annoyances, and to make it even better, their bites can look close to one another.

Bed bugs and fleas are two of the most irritating pests out there, but there are some differences between them. By looking at the bites that they leave behind, you can determine what variety of insects you are dealing with. Once you have that settled, it is time for action.

Why Do Fleas Bite Us?

First, we have to understand why these bugs even enjoy biting us in the first place. Well, they do not so much “enjoy” it as they need to do it to survive.

Fleas bite mammals to feed off of their blood. If you have ever seen a ton of tiny black specks crawling around your fluffy friend’s fur, the chances are that you have seen fleas firsthand.

A common misconception about fleas is that they only bite our pets. Most fleas indeed tend to prefer a fuzzy host, but they will also often bite humans. There are actually multiple kinds of fleas, some of which will happily flock to a person rather than a pet.

If that was not already unpleasant enough, fleas have another not-so-charming habit. They leave behind reddish-brown specks for their larvae to feed on. This substance is often referred to as “flea dirt,” which is just a pseudonym to hide the truth.

In reality, this dirt is little more than feces filled with blood. Once the flea eggs hatch, they need sustenance, but they are not yet ready to bite a host themselves. Luckily for them, and unluckily for us, they have their parents’ dirt to keep them well fed.

Why Do Bed Bugs Bite Us?

The reasons that bed bugs bite us are very similar to why fleas bite us. Like fleas, bed bugs also need our blood to survive. Bed bugs are most active during the night, making their home in our beds even more ingenious and devious. These insects primarily feed on us while we sleep, allowing them to bite and escape undetected.

Bed bugs are also very flat creatures, meaning that they can easily fit in crevices that we would not otherwise think to check. For instance, a space between the mattress and a bed frame could easily house these insects. These bugs easily earn their name by living in our mattresses, bed frames, box springs, and more.

Getting bitten by an insect is never a fun prospect, but there is something especially upsetting about it happening while we and our family rest. This is supposed to be a time of relaxation and restoration. Instead, these bugs give us the creepy crawlies in our own homes.

Bed bugs also can travel and move to new locations. Even if these insects might have come into your home through a pet’s bedding or other typical hiding places, that does not mean they will stay there. Bed bugs can easily move from room to room or even from apartment to apartment.

What Does a Flea Bite Look Like?

Flea bites typically manifest in the form of a small red welt surrounded by a kind of halo or ring. This ring distinguishes them the most from bed bug bites, which can otherwise look similar.

Another distinguishing factor between flea bites and bed bug bites is that fleas typically go for our ankles and lower legs. Flea bites also tend to appear as a cluster or straight line of itchy welts.

Flea bites do not swell as much as other common bug bites, such as the ones left by mosquitoes. By looking at the bite and considering where you were bitten, you can determine whether you are dealing with a flea infestation.

What Does a Bed Bug Bite Look Like?

Bed bug bites can feel and look similar to those done by fleas, but some key differences can shed some light on the situation:

The first major difference between bed bug and flea bites is where they appear. While fleas tend to be somewhat picky and stick primarily with the lower legs, bed bugs have a much less discerning palate.

On the other hand, bed bugs will simply go for whatever exposed skin they can find. Fleas jump as high as 13 inches to reach you and land low on your body. Meanwhile, bed bugs have access to all of you while you sleep.

The actual bite left by a bed bug is typically a slightly swollen red bump. Some people experience little to no reaction, while others might find themselves scratching long into the night. Bed bug bites can also appear in a straight line or in a random zigzag pattern.

The appearance of a red bruise is also associated with bed bug bites, but you should look for other telltale signs of bed bugs.

These signs might be:

  • A musty odor
  • Red or brown spots appearing on your pajamas or sheets
  • The bugs’ shed skin or exoskeletons

Why Are Bug Bites Itchy?

Bug bites are itchy to us because they cause an allergic reaction. Our bodies register the bugs’ saliva as an intrusion or a foreign body. As a result, our immune systems try to fight back, even if it is unnecessary.

This is also true of mosquito bites and spider bites, so these different issues can easily be confused with one another.

Some People Are More Allergic Than Others

The severity of a reaction will depend on the person, as some people’s bodies will register the intrusion as more of a threat than others. This is often a matter of genetics and simply luck.

If your parents were incredibly itchy after getting bitten by a certain kind of bug, it’s pretty likely that you will too. On the same note, if you have strong reactions to bug bites, your children probably will as well.

More serious allergic reactions can encompass a wide range of symptoms. Hives are a common symptom, or the welts can begin to blister. Hives will look different from the red spots of bug bites. If you or your children begin to experience other symptoms such as anaphylaxis, go to the hospital right away.

Possibility of Infection

Other than itchiness and possibly severe allergic reactions, there is another concern. Many of us, our kids especially, will immediately start scratching the bug bite for dear life. While this provides relief at the moment, it is doing potentially long-term damage.

It can be nearly impossible to explain to our young kids why they should not scratch. After all, it is itchy, and kids aren’t known to be the best with delayed gratification. However, scratching the welt can make the itchiness worse. In addition, it also could lead to a skin infection.

Since we can’t always reason with our kids, we have to look for natural and safe ways to help ease their discomfort.

How To Make Insect Bites Feel Better Fast

Many parents are looking for alternatives to the over-the-counter antihistamines and anti-itch creams that have so many unpleasant side effects. Harsh chemicals are not the way forward, which is why The Natural Patch Co. created MagicPatch.

These cute stickers utilize grid-relief technology to drain the lymphatic system and keep you and your little one feeling itch-free, fast. Simply place a patch on the affected area, and let it get to work. And in case you or your family are feeling down because of other allergy symptoms, we still have you covered.

The AllergyPatch Allergy Relief Stickers use a unique blend of essential oils to help your kids get back to their playful, sweet, and only occasionally wild selves. The best part? They work just as well on adults too!

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs (or Fleas) Bite

If you, your family, or your furry friends are regularly bitten, it is time to spring into action. Once you have figured out the kind of bug you are dealing with, it becomes easier to get rid of them.

If you need some added help — which we all do from time to time — consider consulting with an exterminator. They have certainly seen their fair share of insects and will be able to make getting rid of fleas and bed bugs seem easy as pie.

​​​​Sources:

Flea Bites | Cleveland Clinic

Anaphylaxis – Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic

Bed Bugs and Bed Bug Bites: Where Found, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention | Cleveland Clinic

How do fleas develop? | Michigan State University

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