Preventing Sand Flea Bites While Traveling

Attacked by Sand Fleas in Ko Phi Phi

Preventing Sand Flea Bites: Sometimes staying off the sand isn't an option.
Preventing Sand Flea Bites: You don't want to stay off the sand forever.

Living by the beach in California means I’m not a stranger to sand flea bites, however I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of bites I’d get in Ko Phi Phi, Thailand. The first night Tom and I were there we had dinner on the beach and the next morning I woke up to itching on my legs. We were exhausted the night before from a long day of traveling and I hadn’t washed the sand from my legs the night before, just brushed it off. Big mistake.

Though it wouldn’t have helped with all the bites, anyone who lives by the beach knows that it’s an amateur mistake. Wash off all sand or be prepared to pay with bites the next day.

Later that afternoon, Tom and I were walking around town when the itching became so severe, I practically felt in pain.

“I have to go back to the hotel room, now,” I told Tom, gratefully thinking of the bottle of anti-itch Aveeno cream I had packed in case mosquito bites were bad. (Sand fleas hadn’t even crossed my mind.)

I doused my legs in the Aveeno and 20 minutes later was feeling much better. I kept my Aveeno in my travel purse after that for the rest of our days in Ko Phi Phi – and I was careful to keep sand from sticking to me.

Each time Tom suggested a Thai massage though, I had to frantically shake my head, worried that someone touching my legs would instantly make the bug bites itchy again.

Tip to Avoid Sand Flea Bites When Traveling

  • Wear bug spray.
  • Don’t bury your feet in the sand when sitting.
  • Bring a big towel to lie on when sunbathing on the beach.
  • Shower off after leaving the beach.

If you do get bit, put an anti-inflammatory and anti-itch ointment on it right away to keep symptoms down. It’s also best to pack some with you just in case since it’s not always easy to find a pharmacy – or find one that’s open – when you need it while traveling.


  1. says

    Great post.

    One additional tip to prevent being bitten is to reapply the bug stuff often. When we were in the Amazon jungle of Peru earlier this year, I had remembered to put bug stuff on when we sat down for an evening outdoor meal, but then got caught up in the conversation and didn’t reapply soon enough. And I was using a 40Deet, so it was strong stuff!

  2. says

    When all else fails, travel with someone who is more attractive to sand fleas than you. That worked for me one year with mosquitoes on a snorkeling trip in Hawaii :)

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