We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Sand fleas?

Baltimore, Maryland
Level Contributor
5 posts
8 reviews
Save Topic
Sand fleas?

Returned from a beautiful stay at Emerald Isle over a week ago. The last evening we were there, we found that our oldest child was covered with bites all over her back and chest and a few on her arms. She had been wearing a longsleeve swim shirt and playing in sand and water all week. After googling I've found they are probably "sand fleas" or "noseeums"? None of our other kids (who were all rolling in the sand even more) got any bites. They don't seem too itchy most of the time but they still haven't gone away. Has anyone else experienced this? Any tips to get them to go away faster?

Mentioned in this post
Emerald Isle
Emerald Isle
North Carolina Coast, NC
6 replies to this topic
Chapel Hill, North...
Level Contributor
9,481 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Sand fleas?

Sand Fleas are mole crabs, so not that. beachcarolina.com/2014/… and http://www.outerbanks.com/sand-crabs.html

I doubt it would be noseeums if she had on a longsleeve swim shirt. They're biting gnats and unlikely to bite through a shirt.

Might be "sea bather's eruption" due to what some people call "sea lice" which are apparently baby jellyfish, sea anemones and other plankton so teeny sized so you wouldn't see them that can be irritating to the skin. They often get up under bathing suits and cause irritation and itching. cnn.com/2016/… and …networkofcare.org/ph/library/article.aspx…

Hope it's better soon.

Edited: 20 September 2016, 04:47
Chapel Hill, NC
Level Contributor
147 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Sand fleas?

We were there the same week as you and also got a lot of bites. They are from midges or "noseeums" - like mosquitos or other bites the best thing you can do is not scratch but it's probably too late for that. The itch will go away soon. They bit me through my shorts just walking along the beach - they are pretty hardy.

Denton, North...
2 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Sand fleas?

...Mole crabs are frequently referred to as "sand fleas", that is true. But there is a species of flea that thrives in the fine, powdery gray sand that is quite unlike the brown colored sand found along the beach. To the locals, these are sand fleas, and they can be a problem at times...

Mechanicsville...
2 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: Sand fleas?

My daughter experienced exactly what you just described after swimming at EI this week. Day 1- Sunday, bites all over her chest, back, rear end. Itchy. Day 2- Wednesday, more bites all over her skin under bathing suit. The itch is driving her nuts! By Wednesday evening she was having diarrhea, and by Thursday she had a fever of 101. We arrived home and took her to doc who said, yeast infection of the skin, but she was only in suit maybe 3 hours..... They LOOKED like bites, so I wasn't buying it. Pics I'm finding online look like this described sea lice. Husband swam as well, and he was fine! How long did it take your daughter to heal?

Mechanicsville...
2 posts
1 review
Save Reply
5. Re: Sand fleas?

My daughter experienced exactly what you just described after swimming at EI this week. Day 1- Sunday, bites all over her chest, back, rear end. Itchy. Day 2- Wednesday, more bites all over her skin under bathing suit. The itch is driving her nuts! By Wednesday evening she was having diarrhea, and by Thursday she had a fever of 101. We arrived home and took her to doc who said, yeast infection of the skin, but she was only in suit maybe 3 hours..... They LOOKED like bites, so I wasn't buying it. Pics I'm finding online look like this described sea lice. Husband swam as well, and he was fine! How long did it take your daughter to heal?

Baltimore, Maryland
Level Contributor
5 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Sand fleas?

Sorry I just saw your recent reply. I'm fairly certain it was the "sea lice" described because my other children, who hardly went in the water at all, but were playing in the sand all day, did not get the bites. My husband went in a lot with the oldest but apparently a boy's or man's loose trunks are much less likely to trap sea lice than a lycra swim shirt or girls' swim suit.

Sounds like your daughter's reaction was worse than ours, I'm sorry to hear that! Thankfully my daughter did not have any symptoms other than mild itchiness on and off for about a month. She did have noticeable white scars from the bites/stings for several months - probably 6-9 months. I think they are all finally gone now that she has her summer tan. (she is naturally darker skinned so scars show easily but she also tans easily).

We're going back to EI again this September and I'm worried it's going to happen all over again! I'm reading up on how to avoid this and apparently the best methods are wearing less clothing in the water (so she'll probably wear a regular one piece suit instead of a shirt), and slathering with ointment or petroleum jelly under the suit. Remove the swimsuit as soon as possible after swimming, and before showering, as exposure to freshwater can cause them to sting. Wash suit daily with detergent.

Reply to: Sand fleas?
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
Get answers to your questions about Emerald Isle