How Do I Treat Sand Flea Bites?

M. Haskins

Sand flea bites usually show up as small, red welts or bumps on the skin, and most commonly occur on the lower legs, feet and ankles of humans and animals. In addition to the welts, the bites can cause severe itching, swelling, and sometimes pain in the affected area. These can normally be treated with over-the-counter medications like oral ibuprofen, to help reduce the swelling and pain, and oral antihistamines to help reduce the itching. One can also use various medicated topical treatments directly on the affected area, such as ibuprofen gel, hydrocortisone cream, or various anti-itch creams. It is important to avoid scratching sand flea bites, since this can lead to infection, and if the pain and itching do not begin to improve after several days, one should consult a doctor.

Sand flea bites can cause reddish colored welts.
Sand flea bites can cause reddish colored welts.

Anti-itch creams and gels containing ingredients that reduce pain, such as lidocaine, can be helpful when treating sand flea bites. In addition to such over-the-counter medications, there are also many natural remedies that can relieve symptoms. For example, an oatmeal soak, where the affected area is submerged in warm water mixed with oatmeal, can help soothe the itching. Applying aloe vera gel, vinegar, or a paste made of water and baking soda to the affected area can also help ease the discomfort. Other natural treatments involve the application of various essential oils such as tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, and lavender oil to the bites.

A paste made of water and baking soda can provide relief for sand flea bites.
A paste made of water and baking soda can provide relief for sand flea bites.

Different types of creatures can be referred to as sand fleas. For example, certain species of biting flies are sometimes called sand fleas. These insects infest certain beaches around the world, including in the United States, Australia and the Caribbean. They can carry disease and transmit viruses. It is recommended to use insect repellent when frequenting areas where these insects are common.

Aloe vera gel may help with flea bites.
Aloe vera gel may help with flea bites.

Another type of creature called sand flea is a species of tiny crustacean that lives in the sand or decaying seaweed on beaches. Children can be more likely to be bitten by these sand fleas when they play and dig in the sand. Sand flea bites on a human or pet can also be caused by a species of flea with the scientific name Tunga penetrans, commonly known as chigoe or sand flea. This skin parasite burrows into the skin to lay its eggs. It usually causes more severe problems for animals, and the recommended treatment of these types bites on a pet includes flea treatments such as flea powders and shampoos.

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can help temporarily relieve the itching associated with sand flea bites.
Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can help temporarily relieve the itching associated with sand flea bites.
The application of eucalyptus oil can be a natural treatment for sand flea bites.
The application of eucalyptus oil can be a natural treatment for sand flea bites.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Instant cure! I had bites all over me from Mexico and tried aloe vera with lidocaine, Listerine spray, hydrocortisone cream, Vicks, everything. I was being eaten alive and the creams just seemed to make it worse. It's like they put a protective layer on top to allow them to lay eggs.

Then, I thought: cold and dry are their enemy. I took a blow-dryer and blow dried my skin over the welts and bits for about a half an hour, and let it itch to bring the little guys to a frenzy. Then, I jumped into an ice bath.

Instant relief! That killed them. Then, I used Gold Bond foot powder to stop the itching.

Worked like a charm. The swelling went down immediately. I can now sleep again and concentrate at work.


Oil of oregano works well on all bites.


I have nearly 1000 bites after sitting near a lake in central FL - all exposed skin on legs and arms were bitten and itched terribly. I tried all types of treatments including lidocaine, aloe, cortisone cream, etc. Then I remembered I had some Signature Skin revitalizing moisturizer that worked wonders on Rosacea, and I figured it was worth a try. Immediate relief! Worth its price three times over.


@bagley79 - I also learned the hard way what sand fleas are. Now anytime I am going to have my skin exposed around sand, I make sure I put something on ahead of time.

What works best for me is to use lavender essential oil. They must not like the smell of the lavender because I have never had any problems since using this.

I just apply this straight from the bottle like I would any lotion or cream. Since oil and water don't mix, the oil stays on my skin for awhile and is not washed away when I get in the water.

If you have ever seen pictures of sand flea bites, some of them look pretty severe. Mine weren't real bad, but the itching was worse than anything.

I would much rather try to prevent them from biting than treating them after the fact. The lavender smells much nicer than insect repellent, so that is nice too.


Sand fleas must have been what bit my kids when we took a vacation to the beach. They spent hours along the shore building sand castles and making all kinds of sand creations.

Later that night they had red, itchy bumps all over their feet and ankles. I figured they had some kind of insect bites, but had never heard of sand fleas before.

When we travel, I always carry some antibiotic cream with me. After they showered, I had them apply it and it helped with the itching.

If this happens again, I will know what they are. I wonder if there is any way to prevent this, or do you just treat it after they bite you?


@feruze-- It might be sand fleas. You should check out sand flea bites pictures to compare.

I used to get bit by sand fleas whenever we went fishing with my dad. I had gotten pretty used to them.

Washing with soapy water is a really good idea. If you keep baking soda with you, you can make a nice paste of it by mixing it with water and put it on the bite. It really helps with the swelling. If you have access to ice, applying ice is also good.

This is what I generally did after a fishing trip. I would also apply calamine lotion throughout the day until the symptoms went away which even lasted more than a week for me at times.

Oh and try not to itch the bites because that makes the swelling much worse and you also risk an infection. If it gets infected, you might want to apply an antibacterial ointment as well.


Oh wow, I wonder if these are the bugs that bite me sometimes while I'm swimming in the sea?

Every summer, I go to our beach house and swim every day. On some days, I feel some things bite me while I'm in the water. It itches very badly for hours. I never knew what they were, but I think it might be sand fleas, if they exist in water as well.

What I usually do is wash the area with lots of soapy water and then apply some antihistamine cream on it for the itching. That usually does the trick and itching goes away in several hours. But I have had it where the pain and itch lasted a couple of days.

It's really annoying and sometimes the topical cream is not enough. I've never tried any of the homemade treatments like vinegar or baking soda but I will the next time I get them.

Do you know any other easy homemade treatments for sand flea bites that I can apply right after getting bit? Especially something that helps with itching and pain?


I have a really great over-the-counter topical medication. It's basically aloe vera gel with added lidocaine in it. It's fantastic for bug bites, especially sand flea bites.

My daughter had them last summer on the beach and I thankfully had this topical gel with me. Within minutes of applying, she stopped crying and said that it felt much better.

Aloe vera is already really soothing and cooling to the skin. The added lidocaine helps relieve the pain and itching so it's like an all in one treatment. The next day the bumps from the sand flea bites were gone and it was like nothing happened. I just love this topical treatment.

Post your comments
Forgot password?