Fair warning before reading: This post might have you scratching all day.
There’s no doubt about it; bug bites suck! We try to spend our time outdoors with the kids, only to find we come in from a hike or a beautiful afternoon at the park, and our ankles are riddled with welts that itch.
After an angst-ridden moment of temporary insanity from the incessant itch, we vow “Never again!” So, next time we visit our favorite outdoor hangouts, we will be prepared to keep those biting beasts away.
But how do you know what you’re trying to fight?
Well, The Natural Patch Co. is here today to give you a little insight into the differences between mosquito and flea bites so that you know what you’re up against.
Let’s discuss how to stop these bugs from making a meal out of you and your littles again.
Why Is It Important?
While we don’t expect anyone to argue that knowing what bit you is always just important so that you know how to keep it from happening again, it’s also important to know what bit you for your health.
Bug bites itch and bother us for days, but many of them can lead to serious health complications and require further medical assistance. If you are able to tell your doctor where you were bitten and by what, they’ll be ready to provide relief or any essential medicines to you upon reaching the office or hospital.
Did you know that mosquitoes are considered the deadliest animal on the planet?
Quite possibly the lightest and one of the smallest killers out there, mosquitoes are capable of carrying and spreading some of the worst viruses known to mankind. Being able to properly spot and diagnose a mosquito bite could save you from a few days of serious illness and potentially keep you alive.
In addition to this, many people are severely allergic to the saliva that female mosquitoes use to numb their skin while they bite. It might not cause anaphylaxis, but it will cause additional swelling and intense itching and pain, which will require medical attention.
Fleas might not spread the serious illnesses that mosquitoes can carry, but they can still do damage. The tiny creatures can cause serious skin infections and carry diseases like the Bubonic Plague. Many people attribute rodents as the causes behind plagues, but in fact, it’s the rodents carrying the fleas that spread the disease.
While instances of plague are few and far between now, there have still been cases appearing in the last ten years. Knowing how to diagnose flea bites is still very important.
Knowing What A Flea Bite Is
Fleas are small, so diagnosing their bites can be challenging; you can’t accuse what you can’t see, right? The problem with fleas is that many types of fleas can burrow into your skin, causing serious skin infections. Other types cause infestations in your house or yard and will be that much harder to get rid of.
What you need to know about fleas is that they can live anywhere but especially favor warmer climates. Meaning cities and areas of the world that have colder months will have flea season while others will just have fleas. Either way, you don’t want them around. Fleas can’t fly but can jump as high as eight inches. This gives them an easy flight path and allows them to move around until they find suitable hosts.
Most households are at higher risk for fleas when they have domestic pets. If you have been noticing bites lately, your four-legged best friend might be the culprit. It’s important to tackle the issue as soon as possible. While your pets might be the ones to bring the fleas home, these insects can (and will) attach themselves to any human in the house.
How Are Flea Bites Diagnosed?
There are a few warning signs to look for when diagnosing flea bites. The main thing about their bites is that they will usually be low on your body. They are literal ankle biters. This is their preferred or most common biting area, but you can also find flea bites in warm creases in your skin, like elbows or knees.
Their bites will be small, red bumps that will turn white when pushed on but come in bunches. You won’t have one flea bite by itself; there will be a lot of little bumps in succession.
What Happens When You Are Bit By a Flea?
Flea bites also cause an extreme itch; they will literally drive you crazier than your kids did the day they learned to ask why. Also, know that many people don’t have a reaction the first time they are bitten by fleas.
So, if you have a few bites in a row (scientists termed it breakfast, lunch, and dinner bites) but they don’t itch, don’t write it off. The next time you get bit, you could end up with a much more severe reaction.
Other, more severe reactions can also occur if you are allergic to flea bites (people can have a reaction without being allergic. However, there are many people out there that are very allergic to these insects. In those groups, you will likely see hives and excessive rash with bites, in addition to the dreaded itch.
You could also potentially see blistering in the affected area, and if you are the type of person that will definitely scratch the itch, there is a chance that you break open bites and cause skin infections as a result.
As we stated above, fleas spread the plague. While the above-mentioned side effects are just from reactions to flea bites, there are more severe reactions you can expect from contracting the plague from fleas.
These include swelling of the lymph nodes, headache, fever, and/or chills. If you experience any of these symptoms and notice a red rash in any areas accompanied by an itch, you should seek help from a medical professional. Note that symptoms can show up anywhere from one to six days after bites are visible.
How To Fight a Flea Bite
Flea bites can happen to anyone, so if you find yourself a victim, you’re not alone.
There are things you can do to alleviate the symptoms.
First things first, pets are the likely culprit (sorry, Fido). If it’s been a while, now is a good time to bathe any animals in your home and use a vet-recommended flea shampoo. Make sure to keep floors vacuumed and steam clean any carpet in your home.
If you do find yourself exceptionally itchy, oatmeal baths are a great way to relieve symptoms, but be sure to steer clear of really hot water as this will aggravate flea bites and cause the itching to get worse.
Knowing the Mosquito Bites
Now that you’re able to decipher flea bites, you need to understand mosquito bites and what they look like. The reactions and risk factors that come along with mosquitoes can be serious; it's critical that everyone knows what to watch out for and what to do.
The Mind of a Mosquito
Unlike a flea, there are typical mosquito seasons, and they occur in the hotter months of the year and in more humid climates. Mosquitoes need stagnant water to breed, so humid areas of the world that experience more rain are the likely culprits.
Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale as we breathe. So, exercise, which leads to heavy breathing or excessive odors from sweating, can attract more mosquitoes than other times.
You also want to be more careful when attending block parties or festivals. Dense populations equal more carbon dioxide. Plus, many of these parties can involve beer, and scientists say that attracts more mosquitoes as well (think about that next time you go for an IPA!).
What Happens When They Bite
Female mosquitoes are the ones that bite when they need to lay eggs. The extra protein they get from our blood gives them the energy and nutrients they need to lay 300 eggs (those poor moms).
In order to successfully bite and suck enough blood to fill their bellies, these insects inject their saliva into our skin to numb the bitten skin and relieve any pain. When they are done, the saliva wears off pretty quickly, which is why most of us notice right after or as the mosquito starts to fly away.
The saliva causes the itch; our body's response to the saliva is an allergic reaction. As a result, we’re left with a bump (or several) and an itch that can last for several days. In extreme cases, the bump can swell. In the most severe of cases, this histamine reaction can cause wheezing, a sore throat, or fainting.
Mosquitoes carrying severe illnesses that are passed onto you can cause a variety of symptoms. If you’ve been bitten and notice signs and symptoms that are unrelated to the typical afflictions caused by mosquito bites, it’s best to seek medical attention to get ahead of any severe health risks.
How To Treat Yourself
There are things you can do before reaching the point of being bitten. Around your home, you will want to ensure there isn’t any standing water anywhere around your house. Birdbaths must be kept clean and should be emptied regularly.
Pots without flowers shouldn’t have any water left in them, as mosquitoes need this water to breed and lay eggs. Screens on your doors and windows should be kept clean and free from rips or tears.
When you are planning outdoor events, plan for clothes that cover as much skin as possible to expose as little as you can to mosquitoes. We also highly recommend investing in our BuzzPatch to help keep you protected everywhere you go.
These are cute stickers that go on you and your kids’ clothing and repel mosquitoes all day. On top of the bite security, the blend of essential oils smells amazing and will keep your nose happy and your body bite-free all the time.
If you do find yourself a victim, fight the urge to itch. Scratching will feel good for a few seconds but will intensify the urge to scratch. In addition to this, you should refrain from super hot showers. Just like with flea bites, the hotter water will cause the itching to increase and become painful.
We also make our MagicPatch that is created with scientific grid technology to pull the itch-inducing saliva to the top of the skin and eliminate the need and want to scratch. The stickers are fun to wear, and your whole family will appreciate the quick-acting relief from itching.
Know Your Enemy: You’re Ready For The World
We hope you learned a lot today about identifying the differences between mosquito and flea bites and feel better about taking on the outside world. When it comes to our children and our bodies, outside factors can be a bit intimidating. But, with our understanding of these pesky creatures, we hope you rest a little easier knowing you’re better protected.