Bed Bug Bites vs. Flea Bites: How To Tell the Difference

Certain bug bites can also spread illnesses, such as Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, Dengue fever, and yellow fever (all transmitted by mosquitoes); Lyme disease (from ticks); Rocky Mountain spotted fever (from dogs or wood ticks); and Chagas disease (from a blood-sucking insect known as a “kissing bug”).

Similarly, fleabites are so itchy that they can lead to infection from excessive scratching. In addition, fleabites and bedbug bites can both lead to papular urticaria , a hypersensitivity disorder that causes recurring hives that are hot and painful.

Bedbug bites tend to occur in clusters of several bites in a jagged pattern. Bedbugs are active at night and tend to bite you while you sleep, so you may suspect bedbugs if you wake with bites. While fleabites also tend to occur in a pattern of three, they occur near the ankles and feet.

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Spiders inhabit the dark corners of your home and hard-to-reach areas that humans can’t reach. The best way to avoid spider bites is to prevent making secluded areas in your home a good breeding ground for them. Remember to clean your house thoroughly, vacuuming in areas where spiders are likely to build spiderwebs.

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How can you prevent bug bites? Here are some tips from the CDC:

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If you find evidence of an infestation, know that bedbug infestations are notoriously difficult to eradicate. For this reason, most people work with a professional. Regardless of if you treat yourself or use a pest control company, you will still need to follow the steps below:

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Flea Bites vs Bed Bug Bites

Hornets typically build their large paper nests in tree hollows, as well as undisturbed spots in barns, attics, and even walls, according to the University of Kentucky. Hornets will defend their nests (and may attack you) if you get too close, so leave the area if you come across one. If you come across a solitary hornet, leave it alone; hornets typically only sting when threatened, the University of Kentucky notes. And if you do get stung, leave the area right away to avoid another attack, Russell says.

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At-home treatment of bedbug bites and fleabites is to keep the bites clean and treat the itch. Common topical treatments include:

If you have known allergies to bug bites, talk with your physician about emergency care. Some people with severe allergies to bug bites need to have allergy medicine, including epinephrine (such as an EpiPen), with them always.

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The CDC cautioned Americans that diseases from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have soared in recent years.

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Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

Ant bites and stings are typically painful and cause red skin bumps. Some types of ants, like fire ants, are venomous, and their bites can cause a severe allergic reaction. Fire ants bite first to hold on and then sting, giving a sharp pain and a burning sensation. If you’re bitten by fire ants, you may see white, fluid-filled pustules or blisters (pictured) a day or two after the sting. These last three to eight days and may cause scars. The bumps may also be itchy and red, and you may have swelling around the site. It’s important not to scratch or break open the blisters because they can become infected, notes the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Carpenter ant bites are also painful because they spray formic acid into the bite, which causes a burning feeling.

Bee stings cause a sharp pain that may continue for a few minutes before fading to a dull, aching feeling. The area may still feel sore to the touch a few days later. A red skin bump with white around it may appear around the site of the sting, and the area may itch and feel hot to the touch. If you’ve been stung by a bee before, your body may also have an immune response to the venom in the sting, resulting in swelling where the sting occurred or in an entire area of your body, including your throat and lungs. If you have this type of allergic response, called anaphylaxis, it is a medical emergency that needs treatment immediately. Symptoms of a severe allergy to a bee sting include hives, swelling, trouble breathing, dizziness, cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and even cardiac arrest.

Bed Bug Bites vs. Flea Bites: How To Tell the Difference

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Most bug bites are transmitted directly from the insect and occur outdoors. Two exceptions are bedbugs (tiny mites that live in and near beds) and lice, which spread through contact with an infected person, a comb, or clothing.

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Both bedbug bites and fleabites cause a similar sensation—they itch. Bedbugs cause itchy bumps. Similarly, fleabites cause itchy, small papules (a raised skin spot).

To recap: flea bites are clusters usually found on your lower body underneath skin folds most likely from fleas that came from your pets. Bed bug bites are a line of bumps that usually appear on your upper body from bugs inhabiting your bed and furniture. Lastly, spider bites are singular bites that come from provoking a spider. While these three are generally harmless, there’s a risk of skin infection and allergies, so it’s best to avoid all three.

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