Sand Fleas

What You Need To Know About Sand Fleas

Tunga Penetrans is a type of sand fleas referred to as chigger, jigger, chigoe or sand flea in different communities. The male and female sand flea feasts on human blood. The pregnant females burrow into the skin to feed and reproduce forming a pea like sac on the skin. They enlarge up to 1cm in diameter, lay 100 of eggs and release them to the ground to hatch and then the female sand flea dies.

Sand fleas prefer the warm conditions found in Tropical and sub-tropical areas such as deserts and reside in sand and soil. They prefer poor hygiene conditions are common in poverty-stricken areas where people walk barefoot. Since they can’t fly, sand fleas mostly affect toenails and fingernails. These fleas also infest pets and livestock.

Symptom of Sad Fleas Infestation

When the female sand flea burrows into the skin, a dark spot develops at the point of entry into the skin, which is often at the feet, toes and soles. This spot is the posterior end of the female flea. A small, irritated, itchy and inflamed papule then develops, which enlarge into a white nodule. Multiple infestations at one place result into a cluster of these nodules. The sores may contain pus and develop infections, which is sometimes extremely painful. Irritation and itching occur when the infestation is at its mature stage. Extreme pain in the affected area makes it difficult to walk or work. Stigma associated with jiggers can lead to poor self-esteem and even depression in victims.

Sand fleas bites often heal on their own without complications. In severe cases, serious inflammation, fibrosis and ulceration may develop. Sometimes, serious infections such as tetanus occurs causing death. Serious complications may also occur if the female dies inside the skin leading to the loss of a toe. Removing the jigger using a pin leaves a hole, which can develop, into a painful sore and septic ulcer.

Sand Fleas Treatment

Treatment of sand fleas or jiggers requires careful removal of the entire insect without piercing it, as this can cause inflammation and infection. One can also kill the bugs by soaking feet in a solution or alcohol or other disinfectants. Certain repellants applied to the skin repel the bugs. People living in infested areas should check their feet daily for fresh burrows and treat them.

For effective control and elimination of sand fleas in infested areas, treat infected animals, fumigate homes, and educate people on the importance of hygiene and wearing shoes.

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