What Do Sand Flea Bites Look Like?
Most sand flea bites occur on the feet, ankles and legs. However if you happen to be lying down directly on the sand, don’t be surprised to see some on your back, stomach or arms. Sand flea bites themselves tend to resemble mosquito bites. They suck your blood in a similar fashion, which irritates the skin and causes small red rashes, bumps, or bites resembling freckles.
When you get sand flea bites, however, you usually receive a lot more then you would with a typical mosquito bite. This is because sand fleas usually congregate in the hundreds, they are very quick to bite, and you often don’t feel the initial sting that you do with a mosquito bite. If you received 10 bug bites you might consider it excessive, however getting nearly 50 if you don’t prepare for sand flea bites is not uncommon.
What Do Sand Flea Bites Feel Like?
Like a typical mosquito bite, a sand flea bite will not be fun. It itches and can even be painful at times depending on where the bite is. Some people are more likely to receive a sand flea bite than others, and some have reactions that are better or worse than others. It really depends on the individual.
How Long Do Sand Flea Bites Last?
A typical bite usually lasts between 4 and 7 days. Sand flea bites do however carry a risk of passing along diseases. It is rare, but something you want to be aware of. If you bites seem to worsen or spread, please see a doctor as soon as you can.
What Is A Sand Flea Anyway?
A sand flea is a type of blood-sucking fly, part of the Diptera family. They are extremely small and usually live just under the surface of the sand, which makes them a popular beach annoyance. They are extremely tiny, which is why they are also referenced by the name: no see um. At about 1/4 the size of a mosquito, the name holds true. But don’t discount the size; sand flea bites still pack a punch.
Where Do You Find Sand Fleas?
Sand fleas are most common in tropical beach locations. Central America is a popular spot. Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Belize seeming to stand out. Honduras is also a hot spot; see my article on Roatan Sand Fleas to learn more. The Caribbean and parts of Florida can also be problem areas for sand flea bites.
The Best Sand Flea Repellent
There are two products that I can’t recommend enough when traveling to a location with a high probably of receiving sand flea bites.
Cactus Juice – The first is Cactus Juice. I discovered this product a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with it.
- It is an all-natural solution made of cactus extract. This means it is friendly for the environment, the water, the reef, and anything you encounter. You also don’t have to paranoid when you use it around children, or before you eat a meal.
- It smells fantastic. Unlike a typical bug spray that has an awful aroma, Cactus Juice prevents sand flea bites and leaves you smelling great.
- It works! The first time I used Cactus Juice, the friend I was traveling with refused to use any products to prevent sand flea bites. The result? Zero bites for me, and a few dozen for him. Needless to say, he was eager to use Cactus Juice during our next beach visit.
Repel DEET – If Cactus Juice is a nice Toyota Prius, Repel DEET would be a Hummer H3. Although Cactus Juice is usually my number one option, if I want to ensure that I don’t receive any bites I always use DEET.
- Unfortunately, this stuff is made of unnatural chemicals on top of chemicals. Its corrosive, and not something you want to use around children. If it gets into your eyes or mouth, you aren’t going to be having a good time. Additionally, the smell is pretty repulsive.
- BUT, at the end of the day I would rather use DEET and not have to worry about dozens of sand flea bites and potentially a week’s work of discomfort and smell a little funky than to deal with the alternative.
How To Use Cactus Juice and DEET
For both of these products, make sure you spray before you get to the beach and bring the bottle with you. Target your feet, ankles, and legs the most. Also, make sure you reapply the sprays after exiting the water. It’s a common mistake to spray once and forget about it, only to receive dozens of sand flea bites after the sprays washes off in the water. Don’t be that person!
Strategies to Avoid Sand Flea Bites
Additionally, I have a few suggestions to avoid sand flea bites without usually any products:
- Don’t lie down directly on the beach. Sand fleas don’t have a wide range of attack, so even if you can find a blanket or even better, a beach chair, you can limit the number of sand flea bites you receive.
- Avoid the beach at dawn and dusk. These are the most common times for sand fleas to be active and on the hunt for a meal.
- Avoid the beach after it rains. During and after a light rain, sand fleas will be more active. The rain sinks the sand a bit, which makes the sand fleas temporarily leave to investigate the disturbance. Try to wait at least an hour after it rains to check out the beach.
- Cover up your body. If you are going out for a walk along the beach or don’t plan on catching the rays as you lay out, try to cover up as much as possible. Long pants and shirts to wonders to avoid sand flea bites.
- See if your beach is sprayed or raked. In areas where sand fleas are common, most resorts on the beach will either spray or rake the beach to deter sand fleas from making a home. Ask your hotel what their policy is, or if they know a location that is maintained.
What To Do After You Get Sand Flea Bites
Alright, let’s say you didn’t read this article before your vacation. You went to the beach and returned to your hotel with three dozen new sand flea bites, what do you do now?
The Best Sand Flea Treatment
Mitigator – This stuff is no joke. I don’t travel anywhere without. If you are suffering from the pain and itching of sand flea bites, Amazon Prime this product now. It’s the best sting and bug ointment treatment on the planet.
Let’s say you don’t have access to Mitigator, what are your next best options?
- Warm oatmeal and bath.Oatmeal has natural skin healing properties that make it perfect from everything from chicken pox to sand flea bites. Create a warm oatmeal paste and apply it on the affected area for at least 5-10 minutes. Jump into a warm bath with the paste on and you will immediately feel some relief.
- Aloe Vera.Works great for sunburns, but also sun flea bites. A great multipurpose product!
- Ice. You can also apply ice on the bites. This will help with the inflammation and swelling, as ell as reduce the urge to scratch your sand flea bites.
No matter how beautiful the beach may be on your next vacation, if it’s a common place for sand fleas, there is a chance your will have a less than stellar vacation. However with a little preparation (and maybe some Cactus Juice and DEET), you can limit sand flea bites enough to go to the beach with some peace of mind.