If you live in a sandy area, it pays to know how to get rid of sand fleas. They’re common pests, very active, and don’t discriminate mammal species. They bite pretty much anything that can provide them sustenance and a hospitable environment to lay eggs.
Where Do Sand Fleas Live
Typically, you can find sand fleas in coastal areas, on beaches, and even in marshes. Surprisingly enough, they are also common in deserts. And this is interesting because unlike regular fleas, sand fleas are not cataloged as insects but as crustaceans.
The only places you won’t find them is in your home. That’s because the only good thing about sand fleas is that they don’t hang on to you after they’ve had their lunch.
If you find yourself in an area where sand fleas might feel right at home, you should know that they are most active in late afternoons and during early mornings. However, unlike the “regular” fleas, the timeframes can be extended, if the weather is cooler.
How to Prevent Sand Flea Bites
Sand fleas have different behavioral traits than their insect cousins. Therefore, some prevention methods will be different. For one, you can use clothes to prevent sand flea bites, whereas regular fleas don’t care how much clothing you’re wearing.
Since sand fleas can’t jump, wearing long pants can save your legs and feet from the bites. That’s as long as you’re not wearing flip-flops and sandals.
Another way to prevent sand fleas from snacking on you is to avoid lying down directly on the sand. Or, to lay your beach towel directly on the sand. You can use a folding chair instead and guarantee that no flea will touch you while you’re getting your tan.
DEET-based bug repellents also seem to work. These are synthetic and more aggressive, but they also give the best results. Using anything less, or taking the organic route, may not help you.
You should also avoid any areas with seaweed buildups. That’s one of their primary food sources, so chances are you’ll find plenty of them swarming piles of seaweed. That won’t be necessarily enough to keep them from biting you.
What to Do Post-Bite
If you notice one or more red welts on your skin and you’re also itching hard, you’ve probably had a run-in with sand fleas.
Although it will go against every fiber of your body, avoid scratching. These welts are much easier to rip than regular flea bites. Also, given the environment, they can get infected a lot faster.
You may also want to check for black centers on the welts. It’s uncommon for sand flea females to lay eggs under human skin. However, sometimes it happens, and the black center is a visual giveaway.
If you’re not sure what products you can use, you should probably contact a physician first. Also, it’s imperative to get a checkup if you notice a black spot. Burrowing sand fleas can sometimes lead to Tungiasis and other tropical diseases that can develop into life-threatening situations.
That’s because female sand fleas burrow under human skin to lay eggs in it. That means that you will need to remove that flea to prevent infection and further irritation. Doing this on your own is ill-advised.
Ways to Alleviate the Itching
Dealing with the itching is not that different with sand flea bites than it is with regular flea bites. Applying topical calming solutions should do the trick.
Look for essential oils with calming and soothing properties. Aloe Vera is always a good idea. But, since sand flea bites can be more annoying, you may want to go for the good stuff right off the bat.
You can buy hydrocortisone creams without a prescription. First, wash the affected area, wash your hands thoroughly, and then apply a small amount of cream. Rub it gently until your skin absorbs it.
However, you shouldn’t use these creams if you’re pregnant. Hydrocortisone creams can sometimes cause adverse reactions in pregnant women.
Another alternative would be a calamine-based lotion. While this is not recommended for toddlers and babies, it can sometimes be safer to use if you’re pregnant. Again, you should discuss this with a physician first.
Some physicians may also recommend an antihistamine cream. You will get the recommendation only if the physician determines that you’re allergic to sand flea bites.
Good Old Baking Soda
Is there anything baking soda can’t do? A lot. But it does an excellent job of relieving the itchiness of sand flea bites.
To make a mixture, all you need is one or two cups of baking soda. Pour them and dissolve them in a bathtub. Use cold water to get a calming effect.
Once you get accustomed to the water temperature, feel free to soak the bitten body parts or your entire body for up to one hour.
If you only have one or two bites, you can also make baking soda paste. For this, you’ll want three parts baking soda to one part water. Stir this mixture thoroughly until rough paste forms.
Then apply the paste on the affected area and rub until it sticks. You can leave it on for up to half an hour before it’s time to wash it off.
Another interesting treatment is taking an oatmeal bath. You probably already know that oatmeal is rich in antioxidants. That means that an oatmeal bath will have a soothing effect on your skin. Of course, you should use cold water and at least two cups of oatmeal or oatmeal flour.
Sand Flea Bites – the Bites That Don’t Get Enough Attention
They look different and hurt a lot more than regular flea bites. And even so, they don’t seem to get enough attention from people that frequently spend time on the beach or live near the coastline.
That said, they can be very dangerous, especially if you get them on exotic beaches where no one treats the sand for pests. Now that you know how to identify these bites and how to prevent them, I hope you’ll stay safe and more alert on your next vacation.