Bed Bug vs. Flea Bites – Differences, Treatments & More

Updated on by Jared Belson | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

Getting bitten by something can raise so many questions in your mind. Is your home infested with bed bugs? Does your pet have fleas and now passing them onto you? Until you know which one is biting, you can’t take the right course of action.

Throughout this guide, I will tell you exactly what you need to know when it comes to telling the difference between bed bug and flea bites and how to treat both.

Telling the Difference

There’s no denying that bed bug and flea bites look very similar. They appear on your skin as little red dots, and you may find them a bit itchy. However, one easy way to tell the difference is where the bites are located.

Fleas bites tend to be found on the lower half of your body. They also love warm, moist places, including the bends in your knees, your elbows, on your waist, armpits, and other folding areas of your skin.

On the other hand, bed bugs will typically bite your upper half. These places can be around your neck, face, hands, and on your arms. Bed bugs bites tend to have a raised skin area that will have a dark red spot in the middle. You can also get these bites in a line or a small cluster. If you scratch them, you’ll usually make things worse.

If you keep pets, then you’ve got a much higher chance of getting bitten by fleas, so it’s worth checking your pets over. If they have fleas, then this is probably what you’ve been bitten by.

How to Treat Flea Bites

The first thing you would want to do is wash your bites with soap and water, just to clean it up. This should already soothe your bite partially, but then you’ll want to apply anti-itch topical cream. I use the Benadryl Extra Strength Cooling Relief Gel for this.

The real problem with flea bites is they can be stupendously itchy. If you’re really struggling, you can bathe yourself in lukewarm water with oatmeal. This is another proven way to reduce itchiness. You should always avoid hot water since it can irritate your itching even further.

If you’re having an allergic reaction to the bite, then always make sure you take an antihistamine, like the Good Sense All Day Allergy Tablets. However, always go to a doctor or healthcare professional if you feel like you need to.

Preventing Flea Infestation

As soon as you know you have fleas, you’ll want to get them out of your house. You can do this by deep cleaning your home, vacuuming, and steam cleaning your carpets. I found the Wagner Spraytech Steam Cleaner really powerful for clearing fleas out quickly.

You then want to look into how fleas got into your house in the first place, which was probably via your pets. Wash your pet with soap and lukewarm water thoroughly, and then look over your pet and examine for fleas. Check your pets regularly to see if they come back.

You can also get a flea collar, much like the Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs, or the cat version, to help keep fleas at bay.

How to Treat Bed Bug Bites

The difference with bed bug bites is that they’ll tend to go away on their own. You just need to give them a week or two. Just be patient and give them time. If they don’t go away within 14 days, then you need to see your doctor.

In the meantime, you can use a product known as a topical steroid, such as Cortizone-10 Intensive Healing Lotion. Like flea bites, if you have an allergy reaction to the bites, you’ll need to take an antihistamine.

The most important thing is to make sure you’re comfortable while the bites are healing themselves. Minimize itching and swelling as much as you can, and make sure you’re not developing hives or a rash. If you do, book a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible.

Stop Bed Bugs from Becoming a Problem

A big part of dealing with your bed bug problem is getting rid of them for good. Given the name, bed bugs tend to live in places like mattresses, carpets, bed frames, and even box springs. You’ll also find them regularly in places like hotels and hospitals where people use bed regularly.

If this is the case and you picked up your bugs, then you needn’t worry. However, it’s always worth checking to see if they are in your home. Check all your bedding and mattresses, and will be hard to spot in the day because they sleep in dark places.

They then come out at night because they live off blood and you being in bed provides them with the warm body heat and carbon dioxide they love to live around. In the evening, check over your bed and look for small, brown, oval-shaped bugs.

If you find them, it’s time to clean them out.

Vacuum and clean everything in your home, especially your bed, your floors, and your furniture. Then clean all your bedsheets and upholstery. Make sure you’re using a high-temperature wash and then a dryer to kill the bugs.

If this isn’t enough, take your clothes and belongings out of your room and store them in a low-temperature place, like a fridge or freezer, and this will also kill the bugs off.

You can also install an anti-insect device, like the Ultrasonic Pest Repeller Plug-in. These devices produce ultrasonic sound waves that force bugs and insects like bed bugs away. Keep an eye on your bed by regularly checking for bed bugs to ensure they don’t come back again.

Using a Professional Service

If you’re really facing problems with either bed bugs or fleas and you can’t get rid of them, then you’ll need to get the help of a professional pest control service. Most cases of bugs won’t need this, but in extreme circumstances, you may need to consider it.

Using a service like this can be very expensive, so make sure you try the other methods before reaching out to professionals.

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