And more importantly, what can you do about that terrible itching?
What are sand fleas?
Sand fleas, also known as jiggers, are tiny insects just one millimeter in size that live on dry, warm, dusty sand surfaces. To survive, these parasites need blood from animals and humans. They therefore bite into your skin, after which they suck on blood.
Sand fleas can transmit a disease. This is mainly done by the females. The male sticks to sucking blood, but the female uses your skin, especially the skin under your feet or between your toes, as a breeding ground for her eggs. That’s where the disease tungiasis develops.
Where do sand fleas occur?
Sand fleas do not occur naturally in the Netherlands. They are tropical parasites that mainly occur in warm countries in Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean and India.
What are symptoms of flea bites?
When you suffer from fleas, you can see and feel this on your skin. The most common symptoms are:
- red skin
- Red spots on your skin
- Wounds with pus
- Skin irritation
- Breathing problems
Flea bites mainly occur on your feet, around the waist, armpits, breasts, groin or the folds of the elbows and knees.
In some people, these fleas can cause an allergic reaction. In addition to the pain and itching, you can also suffer from breathing problems. In that case it is important to call the doctor immediately.
How do you recognize sand fleas?
An adult sand flea is reddish brown in color, but because they are so small they are not noticeable. Most people don’t realize they are carrying fleas until they already have several bumps and experience itchiness. The first symptoms only appear when the little creature struggles through the skin layer.
How do you treat a sand flea bite?
The best way to remove a sand flea buried in the skin is with the help of a sterile needle and a disinfectant liquid such as alcohol. By disinfecting everything, you not only prevent infections, but you also immediately kill the sand fleas. You can pry it out with the needle. Then you clean the area around the wound well to prevent infections.
Do you mainly suffer from the itching? You can treat it along with your skin rash with anti-itching medicine.
How can you prevent a sand flea bite?
As a precaution, you can wear shoes or sandals when walking on the sand in tropical areas. These reduce the chance of getting sand fleas. It can also help to use DEET to keep the critters at bay.
Do you suffer from red bumps or itching after a day at the beach in the Netherlands? Chances are that you immediately think of sand fleas, but this is probably something else. Since sand fleas are rare in the Netherlands, these complaints are probably caused by swimmer’s itch or sun allergy.
Swimmer’s itch is caused by larvae that live in fresh natural water during warm weather. They get under your skin and can cause many complaints. These are the symptoms of swimmer’s itch.
Sun allergy can also cause various complaints. In that case, your skin reacts hypersensitively to UV light or artificial sources such as sun lamps. You can read here what you can do about it.
Do you wake up in the morning with itching and red bumps all over? Then it’s probably bed bugs. Unlike sand fleas, bed bugs only come out at night. They hide in mattresses and carpets and bite people while they sleep. Bed bugs are not originally found in the Netherlands, but very occasionally Dutch tourists take them home from their holiday address. This also happened to Samira (48): “I put our beds in the garbage.”
Bron: Joho, Skin diseases, Healthline, Medical News Today