Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites (3 Major Differences)

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There are many bug bites, and it can be hard to tell them apart. Especially bed bugs bites vs flea bites. Flea and bed bug bites look strikingly similar, making them difficult to tell apart. However, it is important to know which one you are dealing with, as the treatments for the two can be quite different. 

Though bed bugs and fleas both bite humans, there are some key differences between the two. Bed bugs usually live indoors, but they can also be found outdoors. Fleas, on the other hand, live exclusively outdoors. Additionally, figuring out what kind of bug you have helps determine the type of bite you received and how to treat it. 

Continue reading to find out more about the difference between bed bug bites and flea bites. 

Bed Bug Bites vs. Flea Bites (3 Major Differences)

Location of the Bites

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The key difference between bed bug bites and flea bites is the location of the bite. Bed bugs make their nests in or around bedding materials like sheets and mattresses. They will usually target the upper torso, while fleas target the lower extremities, like the legs.

Fleas will mostly feed on your arms when feeding because they tend to nest near the head of the bed. On the other hand, bed bugs gravitate towards the head of the bed since they often bite people while they are sleeping.

Another difference is that bed bug bites often appear as red welts or clusters, whereas flea bites usually look like small black dots.

Fleas are parasites that feed off the blood of a host, which can be an animal or human. They are distinguished by their ability to jump and by the presence of combs on their hind legs. Flea bites are more likely to happen when we’re on the ground because of migratory fleas.

On the other hand, bed bugs bite us while we’re in bed. Additionally, bed bug bites tend to be straight, while flea bites can be all over the body.

Size & Color

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Flea bites and bed bug bites have similar looks, but three key differences are size, color, and grouping. Flea bites are usually much smaller than bed bug bites, and they are usually red, while bed bug bites can be red, black, or brown. Bed bug bites tend to be grouped in a line or zigzag pattern.

Bed bug bites are typically smaller, more numerous, and redder than flea bites. Fleas also tend to bite people on the ankles and legs, while bed bugs will bite any area of the body. Lastly, bed bug bites may not have a visible dot in the center, while flea bites always do.

The Time of Bite

Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites

Bed bugs are nocturnal creatures. Bed Bugs feed at night, and you won’t see them during the day unless they come out to hunt for a meal. On the other hand, fleas are not as particular about when they feed and will bite humans during the daytime.

In contrast, bed bugs follow a more set schedule- they tend to feed at night and hide during the day. Additionally, fleas are more likely than bed bugs to venture out during the day searching for food. It means that if a flea bit you, there’s a greater chance that it happened during the day.

Bedbug bites

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Interestingly, bedbugs are most commonly found in hospitals and hotels. But they can also be found in homes if someone is unknowingly bringing them in. Bedbugs are small and reddish-brown with an oval shape. They are attracted to carbon dioxide, so they hide from people during the day.


The symptoms of bed bug bites are the following: 

  • Bed bug bites will typically occur on the face, neck, arms, and hands-areas that are close to the body.
  • They are small, with a dark red spot in the middle of the raised skin area. 
  • Bed bugs inject an anesthetic into their victims when they bite. That’s why many people do not realize it till later. 
  • Bed bug bites occur in random lines.
  • Additionally, scratching bed bug bites often makes them worse. 

Risk factors

Bedbugs are small, parasitic insects. They feed on warm-blooded animals and human blood. They are often found in areas where people sleep, such as hotels, dormitories, and homeless shelters. Bedbug bites tend to be itchier than flea bites.

Some people may have a severe reaction to them, developing hives or a more severe rash. Although bedbugs can harbor various pathogens, there is currently no evidence that they cause any diseases. Additionally, bedbugs are not known to transmit any human viruses.

How to treat Bed bug bites?

Bed bug bites usually go away after a week or two. A topical steroid may treat the bite of topical steroid may treat the bite if signs of allergic reaction are experienced (e.g., swelling, redness, excessive itching). If a person develops a secondary infection due to bed bug bites, it is important to seek medical attention.

Depending on the infection’s severity, oral antihistamines are required to manage an allergic reaction. In addition, it is crucial to vacuum and clean your furniture, floors, and linens after an infestation to get rid of any eggs or bugs that may remain.

In addition, there are three steps you can take to treat bed bug bites:

  1. Launder your bed linens and other upholstery in a hot washer and dryer. It will kill the bugs.
  2. Take items out of your room and freeze them for several days. It will kill any remaining bugs or eggs.
  3. Hire a bed bug pest control service to treat your home. 

Flea bites

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Fleas are tiny parasites that can jump up to 18 centimeters. They attach themselves to animals for blood and live in areas where there is plenty of animal activity, such as pet hair, carpets, furniture, and bedding.

Lastly, fleas rely on blood for survival, while bed bugs feed on human skin cells.


The symptoms of flea bites are the following:

  • Fleas feast mostly on animals, so their bites are usually found near or around the skin folds of elbows and knees.
  • Flea bites are larger and do not have a red spot in the center.
  • Fleas do not inject anesthetic into their prey.
  • Flea bites usually occur in clusters or lines.  
  • Scratching flea bites usually has the opposite effect.
  • Red marks on your skin and intense itching. 

Risk factors

Fleas can cause hives and rashes in addition to being a nuisance. They can also transmit disease, so it’s important to get rid of them as soon as possible. Fleas are a common pest found on both animals and humans.

Flea bites often cause an itchy, red rash. Unlike bed bug bites, flea bites do not usually result in swelling or blistering. 

Firstly, flea bites are more likely to become infective as the break in the skin allows bacteria to enter. Secondly, flea bites can cause a skin infestation by a tungiasis flea. In most cases, the flea will die within two weeks of biting its host; however, it is known to cause complex skin infections afterward.

How to treat fleas bites?

The first line of defense against flea bites is to wash the affected area with soap and water. If you have a lot of itchiness, applying a topical anti-itch cream can help provide relief. In addition, there are some ways to relieve the itchiness caused by flea bites.

Lukewarm baths with oatmeal can help avoid showering or bathing with hot water. Finally, if you suspect that you may have an infection or if the bites don’t clear up after a few weeks, see your doctor–antihistamines can help reduce the chances of an allergic reaction.

Flea control for pets, vacuuming, and steam cleaning are three primary ways to reduce the chances of fleas in your home. Treat your pets with a topical flea medication prescribed by a veterinarian.

Vacuum cleaners can remove adult fleas, eggs, and larvae, and it is important to dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag after use.

Finally, steam cleaning carpets and furniture will kill any live fleas as well as their eggs. Mowing lawns and using pest control services can also help to keep fleas at bay.

Are there any similarities between flea bites vs. bed bugs bite?

In contrast, bed bug bites are usually found on the upper half of your body. Flea bites also tend to be itchier than bed bug bites. Fleas will often jump off their host after they bite them, while bed bugs tend to stay in place after they bite you.

Flea bites are found on the lower legs and feet. Lastly, bedbugs inject an anesthetic before they bite, resulting in a slightly swollen bump; fleas do not inject an anesthetic, so their bites may feel slightly itchy but will not swell.


Though fleas and bed bugs can become a huge problem if not dealt with quickly, some critical differences exist between the two pests. Bed bug bites are often red welts on the skin, while flea bites are generally black dots. Fleas also tend to jump onto their victims while bedbugs crawl.

Additionally, bed bugs can live for months without feeding, while fleas cannot live without a blood meal for more than a week. Both bed bugs and fleas require treatments; the type of bug will determine which treatment is more effective. Bed bugs are killed with heat, while fleas are killed with pesticides. 

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.