Mosquitoes aren’t the only critters that can turn your beachy holiday into an itchy nightmare Libvirt. Sand fleas are another pesky pest to keep an eye out for.
Sand fleas are found in beaches along coastal areas and in marshes. These buggers are often mistaken for insects, which they’re not. In fact, they’re not even fleas – they are actually crustaceans: like the crab, lobster and shrimp. Sand fleas get their name because their bites and after-effects are similar to that of a flea.
Sand fleas vary in size. They can be small like a dot of ground pepper or grow to about the size of a rice grain to something bigger. Despite their size, a bite from one of these monsters can leave you with a large, itchy welt or rash that can persist for days.
There are two types of sand flea bites:
- The first one looks like a mosquito bite and happens when the flea feeds on your blood. This bite can irritate the skin and cause an allergic reaction.
- The second is caused by breeding female sand fleas. The fleas burrow into the skin and lay eggs. Swollen areas with black spots in the middle are a telltale sign of this type of bite. You may experience fever, pain and infections in the area.
Sand fleas typically bite the feet, ankles and legs because they are closest to the ground.
Banish the buggers
- Don’t scratch the bites. This will just increase your chance of getting infections.
- Check the bites for breeding. Sand fleas can live under your skin and live from your blood for weeks. Like the mini-vampires of the sea! If you suspect the little critter is still there, it’s best to visit your doctor to get proper treatment.
- Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream on the bites to help soothe and calm the itching and swelling. Baking soda mixed with water may also help. Just put it on the affected area and let it work. Aloe vera in a gel or lotion form is also great for all kinds of wounds and has a soothing effect on sand flea bites. Lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil may also help get rid of discomfort.
- Try soaking in an oatmeal bath to curb the itching.
- Take painkillers to help ease the pain and swelling.
If this doesn’t help, the symptoms get worse or you notice signs of breeding, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Avoid the bite
Prevention is better than cure.
- Stay away from the beach early in the morning and late at night, or after it’s been raining. Sand fleas tend to be more aggressive when the air is cool and moist. The best time to visit the beach is in the middle of the day. However, this is the worst time for sunburn, so remember that sunscreen!
- Bring a towel or blanket to act as a barrier between you and the fleas. This will protect the back of your legs and ankles from being bitten.