Because many insect bites resemble one another in appearance and sensation, it is not always simple to identify the specific species of insect that caused the bites. Bite marks from fleas and bed bugs can be particularly challenging to distinguish. Health consulted specialists to learn how to distinguish between the two.
What Does It Feel Like And How Do Bed Bug Bites Look?
Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs—small, flat, reddish-brown insects—don’t just live on mattresses. According to MedlinePlus, they can also be found in seams of furniture like couches and chairs, in the folds of curtains, and between cushions. Additionally, bed bugs can live in crevices in walls, John Anthony, MD, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, told Health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bed bugs are typically found in habitations, but it’s important to understand that the cleanliness of a residence is not a factor in determining whether bed bugs are present.
Although bed bugs ingest human blood, you probably won’t notice when they bite. That’s because the bugs inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant so the person won’t feel the bite, according to the CDC. “Most people don’t feel when the bed bug is biting,” said Dr. Anthony. “When you awaken, the bed bugs have already left after biting you during the night.”
How Do Flea Bites Feel And Appear?
According to MedlinePlus, while fleas prefer to live on cats and dogs, bed bugs actually prefer to feed on human blood. Therefore, the presence of pets can assist you in determining whether you have a flea bite or something else. “People mainly get flea bites from pets, so if you have had no pet exposures, it’s less likely to be a flea bite,” Dr. Elliott said.
If they have no other choice, fleas will turn to humans; this can happen if your pet has been away from the house for some time and the flea needs another source of food.
There’s a good chance you have fleas if your pets have unusually itchy skin, you notice tiny dots on their fur, or you find tiny insects (smaller than bed bugs) on your furniture or other household items.
How To Treat Flea Bites
As the first line of defense against flea bites, wash the bites with soap and water and, if necessary, apply a topical anti-itch cream. The itching can also be soothed with a lukewarm oatmeal bath. Because hot water can exacerbate itching, you should avoid taking a hot shower or bath.
Take an antihistamine to lessen the likelihood of an allergic reaction if you think you may be allergic.
If you think you might have an infection or if the bites don’t go away after a few weeks, visit your doctor. Your doctor may recommend antibiotics or other medications if your bites become infected.
You can reduce the chances of fleas in your home by:
- keeping your floors and furniture clean by vacuuming
- cleaning your carpet with steam
- mowing your lawn if your pets spend time outdoors
- using a pest control service
- washing your pet with soap and water
- examining your pets for fleas
- putting a flea collar on your pet or treating your pet with a monthly medication
How Do Bedbug Bite Symptoms Appear And Feel?
Bed bugs are tiny, oval-shaped, reddish-brown insects that prefer to live in your mattress and furniture and bite you while you’re sleeping. They are drawn to carbon dioxide and body heat. They prefer to feed on you rather than your pets, so don’t worry. Although bed bugs don’t transmit any diseases, like fleas and ticks, their bites can still cause swelling or hives. Hotels, hospitals, and apartment buildings are examples of places with high populations where bed bugs are frequently found.
Simple crawling is how bed bugs move around most of the time. However, they can crawl into your belongings and clothing and even move through cracks in the walls, water pipes, and gutters. Because their saliva numbs your skin before they bite, bed bugs almost never cause you to feel a bite. However, some claim that after sleeping on a mattress that was infested, they experienced insomnia. Avoid scratching bed bug bites as they will usually heal within a week or so. The bites may stay on your skin for up to several months if you scratch or irritate them.
Check your furniture and mattress frequently for the first sign of bed bugs, which is rust-colored or tiny reddish-brown spots; alternatively, cover your mattress with a bug-proof covering. When traveling, be sure to check your bags and clothing, and keep them in airtight containers on buses, trains, and airplanes. Regular vacuuming and hot-water bedding washing are recommended. Temperatures above 70°F are inhospitable to bed bugs.
How To Treat Bedbug Bites
Bites from bedbugs usually disappear after a week or two. You should contact your doctor if:
- the bites don’t go away after a few weeks
- you develop a secondary infection from scratching the bites
- you experience signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives
Skin bites from bedbugs can be treated with a topical steroid. Oral antihistamines or steroids might be required if you experience an allergic reaction. In the event of an infection, your doctor might advise taking an antibiotic.
You need to treat your living space if you think bedbug bites happened there. To remove bedbugs, you should:
- Your floors and furniture should be vacuumed and cleaned.
- Launder your upholstery and bed linens. To get rid of the bugs, use a hot washer and dryer.
- Take your belongings out of your room and place them in a freezer for a few days.
- Engage a pest control company to treat your home.
- Take the infected items out of your house permanently.
Risks Of Bed Bug Bites And Flea Bites
Despite the infrequent occurrence of complications, some people may occasionally develop an allergy to bed bugs. According to the CDC, allergy symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, uncomfortable swellings at the bite site, and, in rare cases, anaphylaxis—a potentially fatal reaction that needs prompt medical attention.
According to the AOCD, flea bites can progress into a rash known as papular urticaria, which looks like hot, itchy welts that hurt to the touch. The ACOD cautions people against scratching flea bites because fleas can spread bacteria that can cause infections in people if the bites turn into open sores. According to the CDC, bacteria in fleas very rarely carry diseases like typhus and plague, though this is extremely rare in the United States. Infected flea bites can become red, painful, swollen, and full of pus.
How To Clean Your Mattress If You Have Bed Bugs Or Fleas
Before reusing your mattress, you should thoroughly clean it if either of these pests has been discovered in your bedroom. What to do if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation is briefly described here.
- Remove all nearby clothing or linens, mattress covers, and bedding. All of them should be washed in hot water, then dried over a high heat setting.
- Use a hard, rough brush to clean the mattress seams. To get rid of any remaining bedbugs and their eggs, make sure to get into small cracks and brush firmly.
- Clean the carpet, mattress, and bedframe with a vacuum. Once you’re done, immediately dispose of your vacuum bag in an outdoor trash can. In addition, until you can thoroughly clean your vacuum, leave it outside.
- In a zippered bag, seal your mattress and box springs. Keep the cover on for at least a year because bed bugs can survive for a year without food.
- Maintain a clutter-free environment around your bed to avoid future infestations. To reduce the number of hiding places for pests, fix any cracks in your walls or bed frame.
Initially, the flea vs. bed bug bites might appear quite similar. But as you’ve read in this article, there are some clear distinctions between the two that can be used to determine which kind of pest you are dealing with.
Anytime you find bed bugs or fleas in your bed, you should take quick action. Start by adhering to the cleaning guidelines we have provided above. The decision to seek professional assistance for your flea or bed bug issue can then be made.