How do you know if it’s a bed bug bite or a flea bite?

What are bed bug bites and flea bites?

Both fleas and bed bugs can live inside and bite people to feed on their blood. Bed bug bites occur in a group or a row. Flea bites are itchy, raised bumps.

Both fleas and bed bugs can live inside and bite people to feed on their blood. How can you tell the difference between your bites? Learn more about flea bites and bed bug bites.

Insect bites are irritating and uncomfortable. The situation is even worse when you are at home as the house needs treatment to get rid of the insects.

Bed bugs and fleas are both bugs that feed on human blood. There are some differences between the two types. Finding out what type of bugs you have can help you determine what type of bite you have.

What are bed bug bites?

Bed bug bites come from bed bugs, which are tiny parasitic beetles. Bed bugs are no larger than an apple core and are brown, balloon-like in shape.

Female bed bugs can lay between 1 and 3 eggs per day and between 200 and 500 eggs during their lifetime, so the infestation can spread quickly.

What are flea bites?

Flea bites come from fleas – tiny black or brown parasitic insects. They feed on blood and always prefer to live on a human or animal host. You can jump up to six inches and easily access an unsuspecting dog, cat, or human.

They lay 40-50 eggs a day, which without a host can mature in carpets and other soft fibers. Flea infestations grow quickly once there are fleas in your home.

What are the symptoms and signs of bed bug bites compared to flea bites?

Bed bug and flea bites are very similar, but there are a few differences that can help you tell them apart.

Symptoms of bed bug bites

Bed bug bites inject an anesthetic into your skin so you don’t feel the bite. It may be a day or more before you notice the bites turn into itchy, red bumps on your skin.

The bites appear in a group or line, usually on your arms and legs. New bites are most likely to appear in the morning after sleeping.

Symptoms of flea bites

Flea bites are small, raised bumps that itch. They are usually in groups of three sometimes referred to as “breakfast, lunch, dinner”. People often notice flea bites on their feet and ankles as fleas migrate on the carpet or floor.

Fleas defecate when they bite, leaving bacteria on the skin around the bites. This makes flea bites prone to infection, especially if you spread the bacteria when you scratch with your fingers.

Flea droppings, also known as flea droppings, are the reason why fleas spread diseases like plague, typhoid and tapeworms.

What are the causes of bed bug bites vs. flea bites?

Flea bites and insect bites are obvious once you know which bug is in your home.

Causes of bed bug bites

Bed bugs prefer to live on fabrics or other soft surfaces such as furniture. They don’t live on animals or people. They could enter your home with suitcases or other cloth items from a previously infested room. They cannot jump or fly, but they can crawl very quickly.

You can tell if bed bugs are present in a house by looking for these signs:

  • Reddish spots on the bed from crushed beetles.
  • Tiny dark spots from bed bug droppings.
  • Bed bug eggs, egg shells and the exoskeletons.
  • Live bed bugs.
  • A musty smell in the rooms where bed bugs live.

Causes of Flea Bites

It is easy for a person or a pet to carry fleas around the house. Other animals such as mice, rats or raccoons can also bring fleas into the house.

As soon as fleas lay eggs on the animals, the eggs fall off and mature in the carpet or other places in the house. Then new fleas hatch and begin to bite people and pets.

You can tell if an animal has fleas by looking for fleas on its skin under its fur. You may also notice black spots or “flea debris” that fleas leave behind when they bite.

How to diagnose bed bug bites vs. flea bites

Most of the time, you can spot bed bug bites or flea bites without seeing a doctor.

How to diagnose bed bug bites

You can recognize bed bug bites by the fact that the bites pile up in a zigzag pattern. Bed bugs have a tendency to bite exposed areas of skin such as arms and legs. You may notice new bites in the morning.

If you think you may have bed bug bites, check for other signs of bed bugs in your home, such as:

  • Bed bugs in mattresses, sheets, or clothing
  • Bedbug molt exoskeletons
  • Rust-colored spots
  • Musty smell

How to diagnose flea bites

Flea bites in humans are typically on the feet and ankles. You might notice them in groups of three.

If you think you may have flea bites, it is a good idea to examine your pet’s skin for fleas and check for other signs of fleas around the house.

Treatments for bed bugs vs. fleas

In most cases, you can treat bed bug and flea bites at home.

Treatment of bed bug bites

Most bed bug bites aren’t serious. Unlike other parasites, bed bugs do not transmit disease. You can treat the itching and discomfort of bed bugs by using over-the-counter anti-itch creams and by keeping the bites clean and dry.

In some cases, the bites can cause other problems that require a doctor to be seen. Talk to your doctor if your bites are infected or get worse instead of improving.

Once you get the bites off, you can try removing the bed bugs from your home. You may need to speak to a professional exterminator.

Treatment of flea bites

It’s important to clean the area around flea bites to minimize the risk of other infections from flea feces. You can treat the itchiness with over-the-counter antihistamines and anti-itch creams.

Call your doctor if your bites get worse instead of improving, or if your skin is infected.

To get rid of fleas, you can talk to your veterinarian about treating fleas in your pets. An exterminator can suggest ways to kill fleas in your home. Careful vacuuming and dusting will help get rid of flea eggs in carpets and furniture.


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Medically checked on 02/26/2021



American Academy of Dermatology Association: “Bed Bugs: Diagnosis and Treatment.”

American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: “Flea Bites”.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Bed Bug FAQs.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Flea Borne Diseases of the United States”.

Environmental Protection Agency: “Occurrence and Life Cycle of Bed Bugs.”

Environmental Protection Agency: “Control Fleas and Ticks in Your Home.”

Environmental Protection Agency: “Get Rid of Bed Bugs.”

Environmental Protection Agency: “How To Find Bed Bugs.”

Seattle Children’s Hospital: “Bed Bug Bites”.

University of Kentucky: “Flea Control and Prevention.”

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