Sometimes we come home from vacation with more than good memories. Mosquitos, mites, bedbugs, and fleas can leave their marks upon us. And we end up with itchy or painful skin sores. If you scratch too much, the sores can get infected. Although rare, some of these tiny creatures can transmit diseases.
Sand fleas can be especially troublesome in the Caribbean islands. The vacationer strolling barefooted, sitting, or lying on the white sandy beaches may come in contact with Tunga penetrans. These tiny fleas burrow into unprotected skin. This can cause redness, pain or itching. It can also cause skin nodules red bumps with a central black dot (the flea). These nodules are often on the feet and ankles. But they may happen on any area that the flea lands on.
While burrowed into the skin, the flea feeds on blood, grows and lays eggs. These eggs end up falling from the skin. And eventually the flea dies and is shed.
If you visit Jamaica again or other Caribbean Islands, its best to wear shoes rather than sandals. And avoid sitting or lying on the beach without a blanket.
If your skin is broken from a bite, apply Vaseline or an antibiotic ointment. Oral (by mouth) over-the-counter antihistamines can help ease itching.
See your doctor if these skin lesions dont go away. Your doctor can examine you for signs of infection. He or she may perform a biopsy to help determine whether there is a burrowing flea. If you have a biopsy done and the flea comes out with the biopsy sample apply an antibiotic ointment after removal. Also, your doctor will determine if you need any oral medicine based on the extent of the problem and whether there is infection.
Even without a biopsy and removal of the flea, the flea will eventually die and be shed from your skin.