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Healthline Physical Health

Difference between bed bug bites and fleabites!

Both bed bugs and fleas can leave multiple bites. In many cases, these bites can be intensely itchy and irritating.

Fleas are a common pet care concern. They are particularly common among pets that do not undergo preventative flea treatment. Bed bugs are also common, especially in communal living environments such as nursing homes and hotels.

FleasTrusted Source can transmit some diseases, such as flea-borne typhus, whereas bed bugs do not typically spread disease.

People with allergies may have intense reactions to bites, and some even develop infections. In most households, however, fleas and bed bugs are an inconvenience, not a real danger.

Being able to tell the difference between fleas and bed bugs is key to getting rid of them. Read on to learn how to identify different bites, and what to do next.

How to identify flea and bed bug bites

Fleas prefer living on furry animals such as cats and dogs, typically around their neck and bellyTrusted Source areas. However, they may bite people incidentally, after jumping off a host. In humans, fleabites generally appear on the legs and ankles.

Bed bugs preferTrusted Source to eat the blood of humans. They therefore take up residence in beds and other places that give them easy access to human blood. They cannot jump or fly.

The table below shows some key differences between fleabites and bed bug bites:

FleasBed bugs
Bite symptomsFleabites cause small bumps that tend to be very itchy.Bites may appear as small red spotsTrusted Source that may or may not itch.
Bite developmentBites may have a dark red center. They may also develop into blisters. Scratching these bites can lead to infection.Over time, bed bug bites may produce a hard, white swelling that may bleed.
Bite patternFleabites may group into clusters or lines.The bites sometimes appear in a straight line of three or four bites.
Bite frequencyFleas bite whenever they get the chance.Bed bugs tend to feed every 3 daysTrusted Source and may be more likely to feed at night. People who have bed bugs in their home may notice a regular pattern to bites.

Other bites

Fleas and bed bugs are not the only creatures that can bite. Some signs that something else might be the culprit include the fact that:

How to tell if you have fleas or bed bugs at home

People who experience bed bug bites do not necessarily have bed bugs living in their home. For example, bites may occur after a trip to a house or hotel infested with bed bugs.

However, there is a fair chance that if a person has stayed in a location with bed bugs, they may have brought some home.

Some signsTrusted Source of a bed bug infestation in the home include:

  • Visible bed bugs: These may appear as tiny bugs or dots in the folds of sheets or pillowcases or in the seams of a mattress.
  • Bed bug exoskeletons: These crunchy looking bed bug shells may be visible in or around the bed.
  • Bed bug feces: These tiny, rust colored spots may appear on the sheets or mattress.
  • An unusual odor: There may be a sweet or musty odor coming from the mattress or sheets.

Some signs that there are fleas in the home include:

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