Sand Flea Bites – Treatments and Prevention

There you are sitting on the beach, relaxing in the sun, enjoying this little escape to paradise when you feel it.  That needling sting of a sand flea bite.  Bumpy, ugly, red and itchy, it can inflict havoc on your skin.  Like actual fleas, you will most commonly find the bites on your feet, ankles and lower legs; however, if you have been laying in the sand, your entire body is fair game.

What you may not realize about “Sand Fleas” is that they are not actually fleas.  They are small crustaceans that are difficult to see with the naked eye.  This makes perfect sense when you consider that getting bitten by one can cause the victim to become pretty grumpy and crusty themselves.  The bite still itches, still makes red welts and can still cause you serious issues if not properly dealt with and treated.

The good news is that they will not infest your pet or your home, and with the right information (such as that provided here), you can defend yourself against the annoying parasite and prevent further bites if you have already been attacked by these vicious little pests.

Modus Operandi

Sand fleas are most likely to attack in low light.  Like the tiny little vampires they are, they lie in wait on the beach for an attractive ankle or foot to stroll by and seize their opportunity at dawn and dusk.  They can, however, unlike their undead counterparts, strike during the day and are usually burrowed into the sand just waiting for an errant toe or foot to dig down into their den.

Treatments

Ok, ok, I realize that if you have been bitten by one and are currently in the process of feeling like your itching skin is on fire, you care less about what it is and how they attack than you do about how to FIX it!  Here is a list that gives some good tips for relieving your misery:

  • Do NOT scratch.  Easier said than done, I know, but scratching can lead to infection at the site.
  • Look at the bite area to make sure breeding the little creatures have not deposited eggs on your skin.  A horrendous thought for sure, and the reality is worse.  If left alone, it can live under your skin for weeks, feeding on your blood.
  • Take a dose of ibuprofen.  Because of the anti-inflammatory ingredients, ibuprofen will help reduce swelling, get rid of any fever that may have developed and ease the pain.
  • Make a homemade paste of baking soda and apply it to the bites.
  • A lukewarm bath with oatmeal added into the water can relieve the itching and draw out some of the sting.
  • Over the counter remedies such as calamine lotion, antihistamine or hydrocortisone creams may help.  If the symptoms persist or get worse, you may need to see your doctor.
  • Aloe Vera, lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree and cedar wood oils are well known products that help soothe skin irritations and work well to ease your symptoms.

Allergic Reactions

Like any other allergic reaction, a reaction to bites from sand fleas can be very extreme.  When the bite happens, the bug injects saliva into the wound to prevent your blood from clotting while they feed.  This saliva is what causes allergic reactions.  If you are allergic to the bite, you will most likely experience severe itching and large welts.  It is recommended that you visit your doctor in order to deal with the bites if you are allergic, as additional complications can arise from the bite.  With a burrowing sand flea, you are at risk of developing fever and an infection of your skin.  It is always better to visit the doctor and be safe with an allergic reaction of any type.

Preventing Bites

Maybe you would just like to avoid the pain and discomfort, as well as the time constraints and money involved in treatment.  Here are a few tips on how to prevent bites.

  • While walking along the beach with light rain falling seems like a romantic notion, just don’t do it.  Cool, damp air is a sand flea’s favorite temperature.  It is the equivalent of an energy drink to the crustacean.  For the same reason, avoid the beach in the early morning and evening.  While a romantic evening stroll with your beloved is beautiful in the movies, you never see the couple later that evening.  You know why, because there is nothing romantic about helping each other apply ointments and remedies to get rid of raised, red welts.
  • If you just can’t resist going to the beach when it’s cool outside, always remember your insect repellant. While it is technically not an insect, the oils and scents contained in most commercial insect repellant products will at least deter them.
  • Make sure when you head out to play in the sun for the day that you pack something to put between you and the sand.  A beach towel or sheet can prevent a great deal of pain later.  If you are out walking, cover up your feet and legs to prevent bites.

You do not have to let the worry of being bitten by a sand flea ruin your vacation.  With a little bit of preparation and the knowledge of what to do if the worst does happen, you can enjoy your beach trip and not be concerned with what lurks below the surface.