Home Fleas vs. Bed Bugs Flea Bites vs. Bedbug Bites, Differences and Pictures

Flea Bites vs. Bedbug Bites, Differences and Pictures

by Dr. Joe Morales

Flea bites vs. bed bug bites – knowing the difference can help you know what has infested your house. Most insect bites can be itchy and produce mostly similar symptoms. Yet, if you know how to tell the difference between flea bites and bed bug bites, you can get rid of them faster. Here are pictures and a comparison of bed bug bites vs. flea bites.

Flea bites and bedbug bites are caused by two different insects as are their obvious names. Although they are caused by different insects, they both manifest themselves on the skin in the same way.

They cause the skin to be itchy, and the area around the bite may be very sore, feel pain and you may experience some redness too.

These similarities notwithstanding, one has to be careful to differentiate them in order for them to be properly treated.

This article will show you how to differentiate them, outline the various symptoms and pictures for easy identification.

Flea Bites vs. Bedbug Bites Pictures

What do insect bites look like? Flea bite vs. bed bug bites pictures, images, and illustrations shown below will help you distinguish the two. Compare the pictures with your symptoms. They can help you if they are flea bite marks or bed bug bite bumps.

Here’s a photo of bed bug bites:

Bed bug bites vs. flea bites

Bedbug bites and marks of inflammation

Below is a photo of flea bites.

Flea bites vs. bed bug bites

Flea bites on leg

Difference Between Flea Bites and Bedbug Bites

If you have ever found bite marks on any part of your body then you must have wondered whether they had been caused by fleas or from bedbugs. It may be somewhat difficult to differentiate between the two but there are some distinguishing features which can help you identify the two.

Flea bites and sand flea bites

Sand fleas are tiny insects which feed on their hosts’ blood. Bites from fleas can be easily confused with bites from ants, spiders and may be hard to distinguish. There are two types of sand flea bites.

The first one looks like a mosquito bite and happens when the fleas suck your blood and then moves on to another host. The second one is a little worse and is caused by breeding female sand fleas.

However, they leave clues that would help one easily determine the cause.

The foremost way of telling whether a bite on your body has been caused by a flea is to check on the bite mark. Fleas leave a bite with a center puncture mark.

A flea bite also manifests as a red swollen mark and often appears in clusters. The skin might also have blisters near the bite mark. Fleas also bite around the legs, feet, waist, and armpits.

Bedbug Bites

Bedbugs are tiny insects which also nourish themselves using the blood they draw from the bodies of humans.

Blood spots found on one’s sheets, bites and the presence of bed bug feces and cast skins are some of the indications of a bed bug infestation. Bites are commonly found on the parts of the body that are more likely to be exposed to bed bugs during sleep – the hands, neck, face, shoulders, legs, and arms.

While not always the case, bed bug bites are often grouped together in a small area and at times may occur in a line or a zigzag pattern. Bites normally look like small, flat or raised areas that may become inflamed, itchy, red or blistered. Bed bug bite reactions don’t always appear immediately after you’re bitten and may take a few days to begin causing symptoms. However, not everyone reacts to bed bug bites in the same manner.

The size of bed bug bites varies with a number of different factors. Bed bugs inject an anti-coagulant along with their saliva when they pierce the skin to take a blood meal. This anticoagulant is mostly responsible for how a person reacts to the bite and determines the size of the bug’s bite.

Since people will have various sensitivities to the bed bug’s bite, the size of the bite will vary, as well. Another factor that influences the size of a bed bug reaction is the number of times a person is bitten. Bite reactions of people bitten many times are also variable, and their response may be either more or less intense as the number of bites increases.

They prefer to congregate around beds and bed frames. The bites manifest themselves as small hard swollen/inflamed lumps that almost always appear in lines.

The bites always appear on the hands, neck, and arms and are periodic.

Flea Bites Symptoms

Symptoms of flea bites on skin

Symptoms of flea bites on the skin

Flea bites on humans can also be seen on the arms after you have held your pet. The reason why the bugs attack the legs is that they live in carpets, rugs, fleece throws put near the floor and whatever else is close to the floor.

Here are the most common symptoms of flea bites:

  • A red, swollen area appears on the skin.
  • The infected area turns red and begins to itch. The itch is irritating and constant.
  • More often than not, the wound can turn into a blister.
  • The constant itching can cause the area to bleed or become infected.
  • In rare cases, individuals will have an allergic reaction to the flea bite that can result in difficulty breathing, chest pain, and hives.

Bedbug bites symptoms

The symptoms of a bedbug bite are usually almost non-existent, they are very mild in nature and often individuals will not experience any symptoms at all. Bedbug bites can occur on any exposed part of the body, with the face, neck, arms, and hands being areas commonly affected. Here are symptoms to help you with flea bites vs. bed bug bites comparison.

Red bed bug bite bumps

Red bed bug bite bumps

  • Some people who are bitten by bed bugs develop itching, red welts or swelling the day after being bitten.
  • Bites by bed bugs may not become obvious for several days or at all in some cases.
  • Many people do not react at all to the bite of a bed bug—many bites leave no mark and go completely unnoticed.
  • Unlike those of other insects such as mosquito bites or chiggers, bed bug bites may sometimes appear in tight lines of multiple, small, red marks where multiple bed bugs have fed along an exposed area.
  • Bed bug bites may cause itchiness.

Initially, a victim may detect a slight burning sensation. The burning area then develops red bumps, known as papules or wheals (rash). In extreme cases, bites may swell dramatically or turn into blister-like skin inflammations.

If you develop a rash after being bitten by a bed bug, avoid scratching the affected area. If the rash persists or becomes infected, contact a medical professional immediately.

Are they flea bites, bedbugs or chiggers?

A chigger bite is not easily noticeable. Chiggers bite areas that are in close contact with vegetation. The symptoms usually manifest two to three hours after they have caused the biting. This is after they have injected their digestive enzymes into your skin.

Symptoms include of chigger bites that you can compare with those of flea bites and bed bug bites include:

  • Pronounced itching is the most common symptom.
  • The area of the bite may be reddened, flat, or raised; sometimes it resembles a pustule or blister.
  • The itch is due to the presence of the stylostome and usually is most intense within 1-2 days after the bite.
  • The itching persists for several days, and complete resolution of the skin lesions can take up to two weeks.

The difference between these bites and what distinguishes the bedbug and flea bites from chigger bites is that the chiggers usually bite one where the skin typically folds or areas where clothes fit tightly.

Are they flea bites, bedbug bites or scabies?

Flea bites vs scabies

Flea bites vs scabies

Scabies infections are caused by tiny parasites. These parasites make their way into one’s skin to lay eggs. The mites generally die off after a few weeks, but they continue to cause discomfort to humans, particularly if the source is left untreated. The symptoms of scabies include:

  • Intense rash.
  • Severe rash at night.
  • Development of a sore red rash and sometimes skin lesions.
  • Subsequent secondary infection from the constant itching.
  • The hallmark of a scabies rash is a burrow-like track left behind by the mites.

Scabies can also be spread through human contact with a person who is infected.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bug Bites Fast

Since bed bug bites can turn out to be itchy and red, you need a few remedies to help get rid of the itch fast. Soothing and treating bed bug bites and flea bites helps avoid scratching that can cause scars and dark marks on the skin. Here is a quick home remedy with baking soda.

  1. Wash the bed bug bites with antiseptic soap and water.
  2. Make a thick sticky paste with water and bicarbonate of soda with the right consistency so that it doesn’t run off your skin.
  3. Let the paste stand until completely dry and then wait an hour or so. Gently wash the paste of your body after the hour passes.

You can also use the get of the leaves of the Aloe Vera plant. Simply trim a tip and apply on the bite area.

How to Get Rid of Flea Bites Fast

First of all, stop scratching your bites! I know it’s difficult but if you continue doing so, the bites can get infected with bacteria that will enter your bloodstream and cause havoc on your body. Save yourself from nasty infections by leaving the area alone.

  • It is best to clean the bites off with an antiseptic soap first. This will help to reduce the chance of infection.
  • This one makes the first point easier to follow. Stop the itching with some cream or lotion. It will also reduce swelling and clean the area, decreasing the chance of getting those unwanted infections.
  • If cream or lotion doesn’t heal and soothe the bites for you, there is also antihistamine as tablets or liquid. Contact your doctor before taking this.
  • Use ice or cold water to soothe the itching. This also prevents or reduces swelling and inflammation.
  • Itching can also be reduced by use of an over the counter hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, or another anesthetic cream to do the job.

How to Treat Mosquito Bites Naturally

How can you get rid of mosquito bites naturally? Natural treatments for the itch, rash and allergic reactions include vinegar, aloe vera, baking soda, onion etc. You can use these treatments once you are sure about flea bites vs. bed bug bites vs. mosquito bites. It is important to know what insect bites they are you are treating. Here are home remedies to try.

1. Vinegar

When you first notice the itchy bite:

  1. Try applying a small amount of vinegar directly to the bump
  2. If you have many bites, you may want to take a very hot bath in a tub filled with water and 2 1/2 cups of vinegar. I would personally recommend using organic apple cider vinegar.

2. Aloe vera remedy

Aloe vera is another excellent remedy for mosquito bites, as well as many other conditions. Not only will it help ease the itching and swelling from the bit, but it will also aid in healing the wound. You can use fresh inner leaf gel directly from an aloe plant or organic aloe juice. They both work well at providing relief.

3. A Dry Bar of Soap

Another remedy for mosquito bites is to rub a bar of dry soap directly on the bite. This will help provide temporary relief to the itching. Remember to wash it off thoroughly after the itch fades away.

4. Baking Soda & Water

Another simple remedy for mosquito bites is to make a thick paste of baking soda and water. Then apply this paste generously to the affected area. You should feel the swelling and itching subside shortly afterward.

5. Onion

A fresh slice of onion can also help take the sting out of a bite. Simply place a fresh slice on the affected area for several minutes until the itching subsides. Be sure to wash the area thoroughly afterward.

6. Toothpaste

For quick relief from mosquito bites, try applying a small amount of all-natural peppermint or neem-based toothpaste. Allow the paste to dry and leave for as long as desired.

7. Raw Honey

Simply, take a small amount of honey and apply directly to the bite. Honey also has anti-microbial properties that can help prevent infection. I would personally recommend using local raw honey.

9. Essential oils

There are many essential oils that can help provide temporary relief for mosquito bites. My favorites are tea tree, rosemary, neem, lavender, witch hazel and cedar oil. Take a small amount and dilute it with water, then apply directly to the bite.

10. Salt Paste

Take finely ground salt and mix with a small amount of water until you have a thick paste. Apply this salt paste directly to bite. Himalayan salt works best, but iodized salt will also work. The important thing is to make sure it’s finely ground.

11. Garlic treatment.

Try rubbing a piece of raw garlic on the wound. It is possible that you will feel a small amount of mild burning, but you should feel some major relief afterward. This is not one that I use with my children and is wise to use caution when using this natural remedy. The smell of garlic (and neem) will also help repel the mosquitoes from biting you more later.

Video on insect bites

Sources and References

  1. Flea Bites.net: Sand and Flea Bites on Humans with Pictures
  2. Medicine Net: Chigger Bites Symptoms and Treatment
  3. MD Health: What are flea bites and their differences with bed bug bites
  4. Bad Bed Bugs: How to Treat Bed Bug Bites


Leave a Comment


Joycee Bastain Feb 24, 2016 - 5:52 am

Treating Flea Bites and Bed Bug Bites
Calamine lotion or cold compresses can soothe a bite and reduce the itchiness. If you have scratched and broken open a blister, you should wash the area with warm soapy water and then pat dry as a precautionary measure against infection. There are also some natural remedies that can relieve the itching:

Mix water and baking soda into a paste that you apply to the bites. Leave it on for one hour before washing off with warm water.
Dab at the bites with cotton balls dipped in lemon juice, witch hazel or St. John’s wort.
Coat bites with aloe.
Take a warm bath with half a cup of peppermint oil, baking soda, “Alka-Seltzer”, or Epsom salt.

Phil Apr 3, 2016 - 11:58 pm

Wow what a great article, you have covered everything you need to know about flea bites along with many other bites that you might get. A great source that not only tells you the symptoms but lets you know how to treat them. Keep up the good work.

joemorales Apr 5, 2016 - 9:22 pm

Hello Phil,
Thank you for checking out our article. We are glad you found it useful.

Asha Jun 13, 2017 - 10:12 pm

Great article!! I just didn’t see remedies for chigger bites and after reading have determined that’s what I have, so thank you!!

Nicole Slater Dec 3, 2018 - 8:47 pm

I have scabies for weeks now I cannot seem to shift them in treated myself with lotions creams but eurax cream is the only thing to stop the itching.