At the Beach, Tips 'n Tricks — November 6, 2015 at 5:00 am

How To Avoid And Treat Sand Flea Bites

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©istockphoto/Bradley Hebdon

©istockphoto/Bradley Hebdon

If you’ve ever traveled to a tropical locale and spent days lounging on the beach, you’ve probably come across the devious little monsters known as sand fleas. These nearly microscopic critters can turn a relaxing beach vacation into an itchy nightmare if proper precaution isn’t taken to ward to them.

Before you get bit:

Avoid The Beach After Rain
Rainfall seems to bring the sand fleas out in droves, so hold off on hitting the beach after the sky opens up and the water begins to fall. You might have a couple of hours stuck inside, but it’s worth it to avoid the endless itch fest that comes after a group of sand fleas get ahold of your ankles. Once they start biting, they don’t like to stop for anything.

Toss Out The Bug Spray
Traditional bug spray tends not to work on sand fleas. If anything, it just seems to make them friskier. Rather than slather on the DEET buy yourself a bottle of oil to rub on instead. This will help ward them off and place an unwelcoming barrier between the fleas and your feet. You can buy insect repellant that says it works against sand fleas, but you’re better off just going straight for oil instead.

Go Mid-Day
Sand fleas are at their worst during the early morning and late evening hours when the temperatures cool off a tad, so schedule your beach time in during the middle of the day. It’s usually when you’ll get the best tan, anyway. Maybe consider taking in the sunset from the balcony of your room, instead of the shores. On a positive note, once the sun goes down completely you’re generally free to hang on the sands all you want without fear of being bit.

Bring A Barrier
Sometimes it’s just not realistic to avoid the beach, so if you have to go all day long then put an extra barrier between you and the sand. A beach towel is a good choice, but a chair or hammock is even better. That doesn’t mean you get to forgo the oil, though—those little guys can leap!

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After you’ve been bitten:

Don’t Scratch It!
The worst thing you can do with anything that itches on your body is scratch it, but that always seems to be our default reaction once the itch sets in. Do you best to resist the urge, otherwise you’re just going to make it itch worse.

Use Creams
Anti-itch creams are you friend, so load up on the hydrocortisone creams or really whatever floats your boat; we hear some people love the effects of oatmeal or aloe vera. Whatever keeps you from actively placing your fingernails near your ankle bites is fine, just make sure to apply it as soon as possible.

Take Medicine
Some people have painful reactions to the bites of sand fleas. It’s OK to break out the pain medication, as long as you don’t use anything too strong and don’t become addicted to it. The bites really don’t last that long and you only need mild relief. Look for something that has the added bonus of reducing swelling, if you can.

Stay Off The Beach
We know this is hard to hear, but it really is for the best. Just stay off the beach for a bit until the swelling goes down and, this time, load up on that oil or insect repellant if that’s all you can find. There are usually tons of fun things to see and explore around any beach, so take this opportunity to see what the island or town has to offer.

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