- Bed Bug Bites and Flea Bites
- Symptoms and Signs
What are bed bug bites and flea bites?
Bed bugs and fleas are both bugs that feed on human blood. There are a few differences between the two species. Figuring out what kind of bugs you have can help you determined what kind of bite you have.
What are bed bug bites?
Female bed bugs can lay between 1 and 3 eggs per day and 200 and 500 eggs in their lifetime, so infestations can spread quickly.
What are flea bites?
Flea bites come from fleas — tiny black or brown parasitic insects. They feed on blood and prefer to live on a human or animal host at all times. They can jump up to six inches, easily accessing an unsuspecting dog, cat, or human.
They lay 40-50 eggs per day, which can mature inside carpets and other soft fibers without a host. Flea infestations grow quickly once fleas are in your home.
What are the symptoms and signs of bed bug bites vs. flea bites?
The bites of bed bugs and fleas are very similar, but there are a few differences that can help you tell them apart.
Symptoms of bed bug bites
Symptoms of flea bites
Flea bites are small, raised bumps that itch. They tend to be in clusters of three, sometimes called the "breakfast, lunch, dinner" pattern. Humans often notice flea bites on their feet and ankles, since fleas travel on the carpet or floor.
What are the causes of bed bug bites vs. flea bites?
Flea bites and bug bites have obvious causes once you know which bug is in your home.
Causes of bed bug bites
Bed bugs prefer to live on fabrics or other soft surfaces, like furniture. They don’t live on animals or humans. They could enter your house on suitcases or other fabric items from a previously infested space. They can't jump or fly, but they can crawl very quickly.
You can tell if a home has bed bugs in it by looking for these signs:
- Reddish stains on the bed caused by crushed bugs.
- Tiny dark spots caused by bed bug excrement.
- Bed bug eggs, eggshells, and the exoskeletons.
- Live bed bugs.
- A musty odor in the rooms where bed bugs live.
Causes of flea bites
It is easy for a person or pet to carry fleas inside the home. Other animals such as mice, rats, or raccoons can also introduce fleas into the home.
Once fleas lay eggs on the animals, the eggs fall off and mature in the carpet or other places in the house. Then, new fleas hatch and start biting people and pets.
You can tell if an animal has fleas by checking for fleas on their skin, beneath their fur. You might also notice black specks or "flea dirt" left behind by fleas when they bite.
How to diagnose bed bug bites vs. flea bites
Most of the time you can identify bed bug bites or flea bites without visiting a doctor.
How to diagnose bed bug bites
You can recognize bed bug bites by the way the bites cluster in a zig-zag pattern. Bed bugs tend to bite exposed skin, such as your arms and legs. You may notice new bites appearing in the morning.
If you think you have bed bug bites, you should look for other signs of bed bugs in your house, such as:
- Bed bugs in mattresses, sheets, or clothing
- Bug exoskeletons from molting bed bugs
- Rust-colored spots
- Musty odor
How to diagnose flea bites
Flea bites on humans are typically on the feet and ankles. You might notice them in clusters of threes.
If you think you have flea bites, you should check your pets’ skin for fleas and look for other signs of fleas in the house.
Treatments of bed bugs vs. fleas
In most cases, you can treat bed bug bites and flea bites at home.
Bed bug bite treatment
Most bed bug bites are not serious. Unlike other parasites, bed bugs don't carry diseases. You can manage the itching and discomfort from bed bugs by using over-the-counter anti-itch creams and keeping the bites clean and dry.
In some cases, the bites can cause other problems that require a doctor. Speak to your doctor if your bites are infected or if they are getting worse instead of improving.
Once you have managed the bites, you can look into getting the bed bugs out of your house. You may need to speak with a professional exterminator.
Flea bite treatment
It's essential to clean the area around flea bites to minimize the risk of getting other infections from flea feces. You can manage the itching with over-the-counter antihistamines and anti-itch creams.
Call your doctor if your bites get worse instead of improving or if your skin is infected.
To get rid of fleas, you can talk to your veterinarian about treating fleas on your pets. An exterminator can suggest ways to kill any fleas in your house. Diligent vacuuming and dusting helps get rid of flea eggs in carpets and furniture.
Skin Problems and Treatments Resources
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "Bed Bugs: Diagnosis and Treatment."
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: "Flea Bites."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Bed Bugs FAQs."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Flea Borne Diseases of the United States."
Environmental Protection Agency: "Bed Bugs Appearance and Life Cycle."
Environmental Protection Agency: "Controlling Fleas and Ticks Around Your Home."
Environmental Protection Agency: "Getting Rid of Bed Bugs."
Environmental Protection Agency: "How to Find Bed Bugs."
Seattle Children's Hospital: "Bed Bug Bites."
University of Kentucky: "Flea Control and Prevention."