Sand Fleas Are Among Us - Beach Goers Beware!
As mentioned last week, my birthday was on the 11th. My aunt wanted to have a birthday brunch the day before my birthday on the 10th at the Chesapeake Rod and Reel Resort. It's become something of a homeward getaway for us when we want to get away but don't want to go too far out of the area. They have slots, a spa, and a beach with relaxing views of the water from the shore. She wanted to do brunch that Sunday and then book me a room to stay overnight and kind of just relax a bit. Due to the skydiving adventure being in Midland VA and my having to be there at 10 am fighting traffic from the Chesapeake beach area wasn't ideal. We agreed that we would instead do the brunch on the 17th so that my best friend Dani, whose birthday is on the 31st of this month, could come and celebrate with us.
Brunch on the 17th was great! At the Rod N Reel Restaurant, they have this drink called a chocolate martini. It has deep Eddy's vodka, creme de cacao, Smirnoff whipped cream vodka, cream, and a chocolate drizzle inside the glass. It tasted just like spiked chocolate milk! Needless to say, I had two before going to the Boardwalk Cafe to keep the party going. And then I brought my own alcohol to sustain me through the night without paying for the hotel's higher-priced drink tabs. Since giving up smoking, I drink a lot more to help me destress or even just relax. And boy do the calories show! I cannot wait until my final drug test on August 1st so I can get back to all-natural healing and relaxation.
That night, I decided that I was going to go to the beach and enjoy my final drinks. It was a Deleon & Sprite mix that wasn't as inspired as my day drinking had been, but it got the job done. I stayed on the beach that night for a couple of hours just kind of listening to the waves and enjoying my "litness" 🙃
The following day, I woke up with a couple of red dots on my feet. They hurt a little at first but it was nothing I couldn't manage. I just assumed that I had been bit by ants and that they would eventually subside. I went to brunch with Dre and carried on about my day. Later that night, on the 18th, they started to itch a little but again - it was nothing I couldn't handle.
In the middle of the night of the 18th though, I was woken out of my sleep with this incessant need to scratch my bites. I had tried not to scratch them during the day because I figured, they were like mosquito bites in that if your scratch them they’ll scar. But that night? It was the itch to end all itches! I scratched and scratched and the itch would not go away. Unlike mosquito bites, which when you scratch them - if you scratch hard enough, eventually they won't itch, they'll instead start to hurt. With these bites, it seemed like the more you scratched the more they itched. The urge seemed unrelenting. In a moment of pure desperation, I did a Google search for "beach bug bites." To my surprise, I saw pictures of exactly what my bites looked like, down to the same general location! The culprit for the ailment that plagued me and other people of this Google search? SAND FLEAS! 😡
Sand fleas are small crustaceans that are actually found on most beaches. They come out during dark cool periods on the beach; as in late at night and early in the morning before sunrise. And if it has rained recently near that beach, they are more likely to be active. If you want to read more about sand fleas and how they can burrow into your skin and lay eggs, click this link here.
I decided to blog about these pesky critters this week because I found that most people don't know that they exist. And my hope is that by informing my loyal supporters, I can at least save a few ankles and feet from these little biting crustaceans.
I am still dealing with the bites but I have found some remedies that I read about online to be helpful in dealing with the itch.
A quick stop to Walmart and I was able to pick up the calamine lotion you see here as well as the Cortizone 10 which contains Hydrocortisone cream which both help ease the irritation and itchiness from the bug bites. In addition to the "in the moment" remedies that you see here, I took preemptive measures to combat the itchiness. I took an oatmeal and baking soda bath on Wednesday night and then when I got out, I put the calamine lotion on the bites - which proved to give me longer-lasting relief than I had thought. I placed the oatmeal into some empty tea bags that I had because I didn't want to clog my bathtub up with oatmeal. 😅 My plan actually ended up working twofold because while in the bath, I was able to use the oatmeal-filled teabag to rub on the bites whenever I felt an itch might be flaring up.
These over-the-counter remedies worked but ultimately on Thursday, I ended up scheduling an urgent care appointment to have them checked out. I wanted to make sure that they weren't infected from the couple of times I did give in to the itch. I read that, the bites themselves aren't what cause infections. The itch stems from an allergic reaction from the saliva that they leave behind when they bite you. The saliva reduces your blood's ability to clot so that the flea can feed. When you scratch the bite though, it breaks the skin and leaves you susceptible to bacteria that can then result in infection. The second reason I went to urgent care was that I read that if symptoms persist, you can get a prescribed antihistamine cream to help mitigate the allergic reaction.
My urgent care physician was great, she knew from experience how miserable sand flea bites can be. It's really interesting to see who actually knows about sand flea existence. There doesn't seem to be an in-between, it's either you don't know they exist, or you've been bit and suffered the tumultuous itch of this pesky critter. Anyways, she prescribed me Triamcinolone Acetonide 0.1% to apply topically up to 3 times a day and then a 30-day supply of Zyzal to take once a day to help orally with the allergic reaction. The prescription wasn't ready until Saturday, but since picking it up and applying it to the bites, I can happily report that last night was the first night I've been able to sleep through the night without waking up to scratch. I plan to do another baking soda/ oatmeal bath tonight and then apply the ointment before going to bed.
Key takeaways from this experience:
Don't go to the beach late at night
I didn't have experience with “before dawn” bites, but I would recommend not trying the daytime dark periods either - only go when there’s sun
If you do happen to get bit, try not to scratch! I KNOW THIS IS HARD
Get to your doctor as soon as possible to make sure that your bites aren't infected and get the cream just in case the over-the-counter methods don't work. It's better to have the prescription and not need it than to need it and not have it
The oatmeal/baking soda baths help the itch, but they also make your skin super soft! I'm thinking about adding a couple of oatmeal tea bags to all my baths moving forward.