Sand fleas go by a few different names, but they all have one thing in common: we hate them. When we venture off for a lovely trip to the beach with our families, there are so many activities we want to do.
We might want to go for a dip in the ocean with our kids or play a game of catch with a frisbee. Miraculously, what never ends up on the list is to go home with a body full of itchy, red welts.
Whether you call sand fleas any of these terms — beach fleas, sand flies, beach hoppers, sand hoppers — or another name entirely, you want to avoid them. We already have sun protection to worry about. We don’t need to worry about these insects too.
If you and your kids are currently resisting the urge to scratch and are in search of answers, this is the article for you.
What Are Sand Fleas?
When someone refers to “sand fleas,” they could be talking about a few different species. They might be referring to sand flies or other common and overall harmless types of insects that roam the beach. They could also be talking about a harmless crustacean that generally leaves people completely alone.
There is also the possibility that they are mistakenly talking about chigoe fleas, which can pose more of a threat. These insects are parasites, and the mated females are known to burrow into the skin. They usually go for the soles of our feet since that is what they first have access to.
Once they are burrowed into our skin, they will begin to feed. As they expand, they can cause ongoing pain and ulcers in the skin. Even once they eventually die and exit the skin.
That can still leave us prone to a whole host of secondary infections, such as gangrene and tetanus. These parasites are found in tropical and subtropical areas around the world.
For the purpose of the rest of this article, we are going to be focussing on the bugs colloquially called sand fleas. If you suspect you might have come into contact with a chigoe flea, it is best to seek medical attention.
Why Do Sand Fleas Bite Us?
Some creatures sting or bite people and animals as a form of self-defense. Although it is still unpleasant for us, we at least know not to take it personally. With sand fleas, though, it’s different. Their reason for biting us has nothing to do with protecting themselves and everything to do with feeding themselves.
Sand fleas bite us because they use our blood as fuel. Without it, they are unable to lay their eggs and continue their species for yet another biting generation. We understand the motivation to take care of your kids, but this is taking it a little far.
Are Sand Fleas Related to Normal Fleas?
Although they share a very prominent part of their name, the reality is that sand fleas and an average flea that you might find on your pet are completely different species.
In fact, true sand fleas aren’t even insects. They do not get their name by being anywhere close biologically or genetically to fleas. Instead, they get their name simply by the associations we have with them.
In reality, true sand fleas are actually a type of crustacean. Picture a lobster, crab, or crayfish. Now picture it many times smaller but still kind of terrifying.
When we think of tiny pests that make life an itchy nightmare, many of our minds will immediately jump to fleas. Now, what about a bug that makes life an itchy nightmare, but at the beach? Well… sand fleas, of course!
Despite the moniker being slightly less than brilliant, a lot of the treatment for their bites is the same. Much of it just has to do with treating the symptoms and keeping an eye on any reactions. It’s critical to determine if any further action has to be taken, medical or otherwise.
What are the typical symptoms of a sand flea bite, you ask? Keep reading to find out!
What Are the Symptoms of Sand Flea Bites?
If you are at all familiar with how the bites of regular fleas present, you may or may not be surprised to find out that sand flea bites present much the same way. Sand flea bites sometimes appear in clusters, especially if you got very unlucky on your trip to the beach. They typically occur on or under the knee since these areas are more readily accessible to small creatures.
The bites themselves look like small raised bumps that are likely to be slightly red in hue. The swelling and the redness might go up and down in the coming days after receiving the bite, and that is to be expected. However, if the swelling keeps going up or the redness does not cease, it might be time to seek medical attention.
When To See a Doctor
For the most part, these kinds of bites are nothing to worry about and can be easily treated at home. That can change, though, if the bite keeps worsening or if you or a family member exhibit signs of infection or an allergic reaction.
A rash or fatigue could indicate an allergy, but more severe reactions like anaphylaxis or difficulty breathing should get you to a doctor as soon as possible. Meanwhile, a fever can signify an infection, which should be treated promptly.
How To Treat a Sand Flea Bite
Once you have identified what kind of bite you or your kids are dealing with, it’s now time for action. Properly treating a sand flea bite will make you feel better in the short term. Plus, it will lower the risk of infection and further complications down the line.
Depending on the ages of your children, you can try to explain to them why they feel itchy and what you are doing to help. Letting them take part in the process helps them feel a sense of agency over the goings-on and might make treating the bites easier.
Wash With Soap and Warm Water
Soap and warm water are a must for preventing infection and cleaning the area. This is especially true after going to the beach, which is often not the cleanest location. We all know that sand has an uncanny ability to get everywhere, which is less than ideal when trying to keep a wound clean and clear.
Apply a Natural Itch-Relief Aid
Right after you or your kids notice the itch, chances are that it will quickly become the only thing you can think about. Rather than using any number of harsh chemicals to try to ease the unpleasant sensation, you can instead turn to a safer, cleaner alternative.
Our MagicPatch Itch Relief Patches use Grid-Relief Technology to create a microlift in the skin. This promotes drainage of the lymphatic system, helping you and your loved ones to feel better before you know it.
Do Not Pick at the Bite
This one is a challenge for folks of all ages. Even the most disciplined of adults are likely to have trouble not scratching or picking at a particularly itchy bug bite, sand flea bites included. Even though it’s tough, it is imperative to leave the bite alone to let it heal.
Something as simple as a quick scratch can leave the area prone to infection. Once the skin is broken, all it takes is some dirt and bacteria under your fingernail to cause an infection. Not only is this an argument for leaving bug bites alone whenever possible, but this is also solid encouragement to frequently and thoroughly wash your hands.
Keep an Eye on the Area
At this point, the hard part should be done. Now you just have to look at the area every so often to make sure that it is progressing as normal. As long as the swelling begins to go down and the redness goes away, everything should be going as planned. If anything appears abnormal or if you or your kids are experiencing any other symptoms, it’s time to see a medical professional.
When Will a Sand Flea Bite Go Away?
Assuming that you follow each of our tips to keep the area disinfected and in the best possible position to heal, you can rest assured that your not-so-pleasant memory of the beach will soon be a memory in and of itself. Sand flea bites and the rashes that they can cause typically disappear in several days to a week.
You can lower this total time by refusing to scratch at them, even though it might be tempting. If you are already breaking out the aloe vera for the spots that you missed with sunscreen, you can use it to moisturize and refresh the bitten skin.
However, it can be challenging to get our kids to understand the importance of not scratching. This is what makes itch relief aids like the MagicPatch Itch Relief Patch so useful.
A Trip to the Beach Without the Itch
While there are a lot of creatures that can go by the name “sand flea,” most of them don’t pose much of a threat. By keeping an eye on the bite, sanitizing it, and treating it delicately, the itch will hopefully be gone in the blink of an eye.