Flea Bites vs. Bed Bug Bites- Differentiate?

The small red bumps appearing in specific areas of your skin can be hard to tell apart. We’ll tell you how to figure out whether they’re flea bites or bedbug bites.

Both these bites swell up and can be itchy, so here are some tips that’ll help you tell the difference between them:

  • Fleas prefer animal blood but can drink human blood as well. Whereas bedbugs only drink human blood.
  • Flea bites appear to be red, swollen, and hard. Bedbug bites, on the other hand, seem to have a dark red spot in the center of the bitten and raised area of the skin.
  • Fleas tend to bite randomly over the body, and you might notice clusters of three dots together. Bedbugs, however, tend to bite their hosts strategically in a pattern of a linear row, you can find a group of 10 or more together.
  • Flea bites can be found on the lower half of the body, in places like ankles, calves, or moist areas such as elbows and knees bends. Whereas, bedbug bites are found in the upper half of the body in areas such as the neck, arms, shoulders, and back.

Learn how flea bites differ from bedbug bites.

Cat ScratchingLet’s go into detail about all the things that make the two bites different, as well as how to deal with them.

Flea Bites vs. Bedbug Bites – The Physical Differences

As both the insects are small in size and feed on blood, the result of their bites look almost the same. However, if you have the right information, you can easily differentiate between the two. It’s crucial that you identify them correctly if you want to succeed at the pest control battle against these blood-sucking pests.

Where Does the Bite Occur?

Flea Bites are expected to occur in the lower parts of your body like your legs, ankle and feet. They are likely to be found in any area where the skin folds such as around the waist and under your arms.

Bed Bug Bites usually appear in the upper areas of your body such as your face, neck, hand and arms. However, at times they can appear anywhere on your body.

What Does the Bite Look Like?

Flea Bites appear in clusters, and look like small bumps surrounded by red patches. They look quite similar to mosquito bites as they’re itchy and might break if you scratch them too much. Since fleas tend to jump, you’d notice that the bites would be scattered all over your skin.

Bedbug Bites also result in red, small and round bumps. These bites usually have a dark red spot that’s raised at the center. They’re itchy and if you make the mistake of scratching them, it’ll become worse and you can end up with blisters. As bedbugs crawl on your skin, the bites mostly appear in a linear pattern. They bite several times in the same place before moving on.

Related: Do Bed Bugs Jump?

What Reaction Does the Bite Cause?

Flea Bites might not cause any reaction for some people; others at the same time can suffer from horrible reactions causing you to scratch your skin. It all depends on the sensitivity of your skin. Scratching them may lead to a secondary infection. It triggers hives or an allergy attack for people who have sensitive skin or tend to have strong allergic responses to insect bites.

Bedbug Bites would show different reactions for different people depending on the sensitivity of their skin. You might feel the urge to scratch them but the irritation doesn’t last for more than a week. People with sensitive skin might experience serious allergic reactions causing you to develop hives or blisters.

Can the Bites Lead to Infection?

Flea Bites are quite dangerous, as fleas are prospective carriers and transmitters of human diseases, like typhus. They might pass on ‘cat scratch fever’ to your feline pet that’s transferable to humans as well. Fleas are known to host tapeworms, which can make their way to your family and your pets.

Bedbug Bites however are much safer, as they aren’t known to cause any disease. They can, however, be itchy and lead to allergic reactions for some people. Scratching the bites might expose your skin and result in secondary infections. Other than that, they don’t pose any major health risks.

How Long Do They Last?

Flea Bites heal depending on the sensitivity of your skin, and might take between one day and two weeks. Many might not experience any severe reaction to the bite, and would notice the symptoms disappearing within a day or two.

However, if you have sensitive skin, you might have a more serious reaction to flea bites, as well as itchiness and swelling resulting from the flea’s saliva that’s left behind on your skin. As a result of continuous scratching, you may end up with severe blisters on your skin that can take up to two weeks to heal.

Bedbug Bites might take different time to heal for each individual. The bites usually stay for about two weeks. If you don’t have very sensitive skin, it’ll take less than a week for the effects of the bite to go away. Some of you may be lucky enough to not experience any symptoms at all.

However, if your skin has an allergic reaction to bedbug bites, you can experience severe reactions. The bites will be extremely itchy and you may not be able to resist the urge to scratch them constantly, resulting in blisters that usually take long time to heal.

Now that you’ve identified whether it’s a flea bite or a bed bug bite, you need to know how to treat them. If you’re lucky enough not to be one of their victims, learn preventive methods so you can stay safe.

Flea Bites vs. Bedbug Bites – Treatment and Prevention

Unfortunately, if you’re already scratching yourself, you’ve got an infestation on your hands. But you don’t have to let go of your beloved pet or set your bed on fire to get rid of these parasitic pests. We’ve got a simple way out for you.

How to Treat the Bites?

Flea Bite treatments require you to keep the bitten area clean, so wash it daily with soap and water. To reduce the chances of allergic reactions, incorporate an oral antihistamine in your treatment. Get hold of a soothing antipruitic (anti-itch) cream that’ll ease the itching on your skin, ensuring that you don’t end up with a secondary bacterial infection. To reduce inflammation, consult your doctor regarding a topical steroid that you can use. If the bite doesn’t heal and seems to get worse, visit your doctor for an antibiotic prescription.

To treat the bites naturally, you can use Aloe Vera gel to lessen the itchiness and redness. For healing, use black or green tea to wash the area of the bite.

Bedbug Bites become worse when you scratch them. To deal with the swelling and itchiness, you can apply a topical anti-itch cream or calamine lotion to the bites. For pain, an over-the-counter pain reliever should be sufficient. If the bites persists for more than two weeks, even after your home is infestation free, or you’ve developed a secondary infection, go visit a doctor. They may prescribe you an antibiotic.

For a treatment that you can do at home on your own, use water and baking soda and mix them together make a paste. Apply the mixture on the bite directly, and wash it off after an hour.

Related: Pictures of Bed Bugs

How to Prevent the Bites?

The key to prevent the bites by killing the root cause, i.e. the pests themselves.

Flea Prevention

  • Daily Cleaning: Vacuum and steam the floors and carpets on a regular basis. Don’t miss out on the upholstery.
  • Pet Inspection: Treat your pets with flea protection sprays, and carry out regular inspection, even after treatment.
  • Trimming Lawn: Cutting the grass will prevent your pets from bringing the fleas inside your home.
  • Contact Professional: If flea bites start to appear on your skin, contact a professional to help you locate and get rid of the problem.

Bedbug Prevention

  • Regular Cleaning: Vacuum and steam the floors and upholstered furniture regularly.
  • Clean Sheets and Covers: Wash the bed sheets and covers and place them in the dryer to eliminate the bedbugs present on the sheet.
  • Remove Clutter: Put your place in order and remove clutter as they tend to reside in those spaces.
  • Bed Inspection: Conduct a detailed inspection of the mattress and the areas nearby.
  • Contact Professional: If you find bedbugs or their bites, let a professional help you get rid of them immediately.

Now you can not only identify the bites, but also treat and prevent them.


  1. Flea Bites – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf
  2. Dermatitis caused by Ctenocephalides felis (cat flea) in human

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