Do you own a pet that is prone to these parasites? See your puppy scratching its ears? Time to be aware of fleas’ bites and learn everything about them: where, how dangerous they are, and what can be done about them.
- 1 Do Fleas Bite People?
- 2 Characteristics and Pictures of Flea Bites
- 3 Do Fleas Transmit Diseases?
- 4 Treatment: General and Specific Rules
- 5 Natural Remedies
- 6 How to Cure Pets?
- 7 Special Remedies
- 8 Prevention Measures
- 9 How to Protect Children From Flea Bites?
Do Fleas Bite People?
Yes, they do. What they eat is blood. A flea may suck 15 times more blood than its weight, so the entire colony needs a lot to satiate hunger. Typically, they are found on pets, because fur is more comfortable for living, and people don’t notice pests and their bites right away, which allows them to increase population without being disturbed for some time. Besides, pets are more prone to these parasites, loving going through garbage, contacting with contaminated animals, etc.
As a rule, a human gets fleas when striking a pet, or just living with it – a flea can jump up to half a meter long, which is why it is easily transmitted from creature to creature. Why do fleas bite humans? The insect doesn’t care who serves as a source of food – animals, or people.
Characteristics and Pictures of Flea Bites
The problem is that sometimes it is very hard to differentiate flea bites from some other insects’ attacks. If you google some images of flea bites, you will see that these are small red dots 2-4 millimeters in diameter. Fresh bites are tiny, and sometimes people don’t even notice them. But when it starts scratching and skin irritates, redness appears around the dots, and they are easier to observe. They start looking like small blisters, and sometimes bubbles form.
Generally, flea bites on humans are located on ankles, lower parts of legs, waist and wrists – areas of contacts between humans and pets. It can also be explained by the fact that clothes are very snag to the skin in these areas, and causes irritation of bites.
Thus, the red spots are usually concentrated in certain body zones, which is why people can call it “flea bite rash”.
How can one know that what he or she sees are exactly flea bite symptoms? These may include the following:
- redness around bites (its duration and severity depend on personal reaction to it);
- itching and burning sensations in the areas of bite clusters;
- allergic reactions that can be different, starting from slight dizziness and finishing by swelling of different body parts;
- infections that result into worse complications like pains, swollen glands, etc.
And, of course, you may understand that your house is infested, if you see pets keeping scratching areas behind ears, tummy, etc.
How long do flea bites last? Depending on body reaction, redness can keep from several hours to several days. If you don’t scratch the bites, you will recover in a couple of days. Otherwise, it may take two-three weeks to get rid of the bites and their traces.
Flea Bites vs Mosquito Bites
It is very easy to mistake other insects’ bites for fleas’ bites. For instance, they remind of stings left by mosquitoes. Here is some information that will help you to understand what is what.
|Insect||How does its bite look?||Symptoms|
|Mosquito||Red dots that are located all around the body (legs, arms, face, back – any zones not covered by thick clothes). They appear to be single, e.g. not in groups like fleas’ bites. Also can be bullous (filled with fluid). Differ from other insects’ bites by bigger size (3-8 mm in diameter) and slightly raised red area.||Itch and burn when being scratched a lot. Body reaction is almost instant. After a bite, redness and swelling may not necessarily appear. Repeated bites may promote papule formation.|
|Flea||These are small wheals or papules with a tiny red spot where the insect injected mouth parts. Occur in groups of blisters on ankles, lower leg parts and waist. Flea bites on babies are often accompanied by blisters.||The bites may not cause swelling and itching, if human body has some proteins that resist toxic substance from flea saliva. Repeated bites can lead to sensitivity.|
Also note that flea bites may occur throughout the entire year, and at any time of day. On the contrary, mosquitoes are active during warm seasons only, and mostly bite during nighttime, or when you are somewhere near water and moist areas.
It takes less time for a flea bite on human to heal, but the cure may be complicated by secondary infections. In both cases, antibiotic remedies may be required to suppress illnesses.
Flea Bites vs Bed Bug Bites
In some cases, bed bug infestation can cause mysterious bites. Although flea bite symptoms and consequences after bed bug stings are quite alike, you can simply differentiate the source of stings.
|Insect||How does its bite look?||Symptoms|
|Bed bug||They are red, swollen and hard, reminding more of mosquito bites. Can be located all around the body in linear patterns.||They cause swelling redness, inflammation and severe itching. Sometimes stings turn into blisters. These insects do not transmit diseases and infections.|
|Flea||These are clusters of small red dots that not always swell. You can find flea bites on legs, ankles, waist.||May come unnoticed, but in case of severe allergic reaction to flea bites, redness, inflammation, strong itching and burning sensations can appear. If scratched, may cause infections.|
While fleas sting all the time they are around, bed bugs irritate people periodically, because they feed only a few weeks. Also note that the second insect is active during nighttime, so you are being bitten while asleep.
Do Fleas Transmit Diseases?
Inflammation and itching are minor symptoms that may quickly pass by, if a person has strong immune system and resistance to flea saliva. Although the stings of tiny insects may not even irritate people, they should be treated seriously. Sometimes, flea bite rash may lead to secondary infections and complications that are far harder to cure. Did you know that fleas can transmit numerous diseases, including:
- Cat scratch disease is transmitted by 40% cats, and can be passed to a human via fleas. Although the animals themselves do not suffer from it, it may cause strong itching, skin inflammation, high temperature and fever in people.
- Plague, being one of the oldest and most serious infections, can lead to fatal outcomes and health complications.
- Tungiasis is the infestation caused by female fleas laying eggs in upper skin layers of host. It may cause itching and burning. This disease is very hard to define visually. Although typically examined on feet and in the periungual region, the disease can also affect the entire human body.
- Various Rickettsial diseases as, for instance, murine typhus. This infection is accompanied by high fever, strong headaches, chilling, myalgia, nausea and weakness.
- Bartonelloses is a potentially fatal pseudoneoplasic disease (mortality rate is 25% roughly) that has such symptoms as malaise, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, anorexia and enlarged soft lymph. Requires fast and effective treatment with antibiotics.
Thus, infected flea bites are potentially dangerous, because the insects transmit some diseases carried by hosts (cats, dogs, rats, etc.).
What makes flea bites on people inflame and itch is flea saliva that is injected into blood to numb nerves. It contains more than 15 different substances that may appear toxic for human body. Some people have certain proteins and immune system strong enough to resist the substances, so they may disappear without being noticed. But some people, especially children, are more prone to allergy. They tend to experience severe itching and extensive redness in best cases. In the worst, a bite may lead to anaphylactic shock. However, this is a 1 out of 10000 case. Other allergy symptoms may include:
- hard breathing;
- chest pain;
- tongue and lips swelling.
Treatment: General and Specific Rules
If you have identified flea bites, you should better treat them, because, as was mentioned above, they may cause infections and diseases, and, of course, discomfort and irritation.
If you see fresh stings on your skin, do the following:
- Wash the area with cold water and a bit of soap to kill bacteria. You may also use alcohol to get rid of infection, but it may cause stronger irritation.
- The golden rule of flea bite treatment is NOT to scratch the bites. Resist itching and craving to touch the dots. Otherwise, you will spread the infection, and your skin will cure much longer.
- Apply Aloe Vera gel, or a freshly cur leave on the bites. It will relieve irritation and itching, soothing skin and helping it to regenerate. It also works well for pets, and does not do any harm if licked. Though, the more it stays, the more it helps.
- Have green or black tea bags in your kitchen? They may come in handy this time! You may reduce redness and inflammation by putting used bags on the rash.
- Use icepack repeatedly to suppress itching and inflammation.
- If you have some calamine lotion, or anesthetic remedies, do not hesitate to use them to ease irritation.
Mind that this treatment is just a temporary measure. If flea infestation is severe, and you get constantly being bitten by them, visit your doctor and start getting rid of the insect immediately!
Flea Bite Remedies
How to cure flea bites with what is sold in pharmacy? Of course, it is better to use what was prescribed by your doctor. Usually, balms and pills are advised to ease discomfort and relieve inflammation. But treatment also presupposes curing of infections, if there are some.
What should be used in an anti-itch cream, for instance Eurax Cream. It has special anti-inflammatory ingredients that sooth skin and suppresses bit symptoms. However, this balm is not suitable for children under ten. HC45 Cream is a good analogue that has stronger components and perfectly reduces itching, working for 10 hours, which makes it suitable for night time. Again, it cannot be used by children under 10.
Generally, hydrocortisone creams are good for children, but they are prescribed by a doctor.
To relieve itching, you can these products:
- tea tree oil
- calamine lotion
But mind that they should be applied on non-inflamed skin, or you will promote further inflammation and itching.
Take some antihistamine drugs (syrups or liquids) to reduce swelling. As a rule, they are prescribed by doctors.
How to treat flea bites on humans with what you have at home? Here are some recipes that proved to be quite effective:
- Witch hazel helps after bites of any insect, relieving skin inflammation and all kinds of itching.
- Rub fresh basil leaves or essential oil on the skin, and that will contribute to faster cure.
- Use calendula flowers the same way: this is a nice remedy for pain and swelling after bee sting and other kinds of bites.
- Wash skin, or make compress with comfrey tea to accelerate healing of tissue.
- Echinacea tinctures can be applied to numb itching and pain, and they also serve to disinfect the place of sting.
- Lavender essential oil or tea works well as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic remedy. Applied on the skin, it relieves itching.
- Fresh plantain leaves help to cure rash and reduce irritation.
How to Cure Pets?
If your animal keeps scratching, and seems to be irritated, it might be suffering from flea bites. To relieve itching, you may wash your pet with cold water. Flea bite remedies for animals should be prescribed by a veterinarian. A doctor may suggest using special shampoo with a formula to control the bugs. If that doesn’t help, steroid creams and drugs with antihistamines are more likely to be prescribed to alleviate symptoms.
You can kill fleas right on your dog by applying Diatomaceous Earth on its back. Sprinkle some on dry fur, and slightly massage it, avoiding eyes. Remember that although the remedy itself is not toxic, it is extra-fine, and when inhaled, can dry out mucus.
Since fleas may live not on hosts only, but stay in your house, the above mentioned home remedies for flea bites may not be enough to eliminate their population. You should kill them in your apartments, too.
Take some boric acid (veterinarians advise Fleabusters brand), spray it all places where your pet was, including carpets, furniture, areas around the house, etc. Leave for 12-48 hours, and vacuum clean. The acid will dehydrate the bugs and their eggs. You can also use diatomaceous earth or ground salt for these purposes. They should also be vacuumed.
Make a spray for flea control. Take 6 sliced lemons, a handful of rosemary leaves, geranium essential oil (3-4 drops) and one liter of boiling water. Mix it all and put into spray bottle. Spray it anywhere you want, including pet’s sites. It will repel fleas.
Make flea traps to kill fleas in your house. Take several plates or bowls, pour warm water and add about a capful of washing liquid. Then place candles in bowls, or near them, and light on during nighttime. Fleas will be attracted to light, jump into bowls and get stuck because of high viscosity of water and liquid. Not able to get free, they will eventually die.
The List of “Don’ts” in Case of Flea Bites
Note that bite treatment will take much less time, if you will avoid doing the following:
- scratching itching bites and skin near them;
- keeping in constant contact with infested pets;
- ignoring the presence of fleas in house and leaving them without treatment;
- not treating bites that swell and turn into blisters.
Also be careful when using drugs and remedies. Take prescription for antihistamine remedies from your doctor! And read instructions when using special remedies.
“Flea bomb” is one of the most doubtful remedies. At first glance, the substance of chemicals contained there may kill fleas very quickly and effectively. But on the practice, it does not reach some corners and areas within drawers, etc., and they become a refuge for the insects. Moreover, it can leave toxic residue on furniture, foods, tables and different home appliances.
When the Help of Local Pest Control is Required?
If you cannot exterminate fleas on your own for a long time, and can’t cure yourself and pets from it, the help of special services is required. Both you and your animals should be examined by doctors to prescribe stronger remedies. Plus, you should call local pest control service and ask them to clean the house from the tiny bugs. They may have to visit your dwelling several times in a row to make sure that all fleas and their eggs have been finally killed.
How to prevent flea bites? First and foremost, you should try to get rid of bugs, or at least reduce its population. Wash your pet with special shampoo, and give some special remedies, if prescribed by a veterinarian. Don’t forget about treating your own bites.
Use the above mentioned means of exterminating fleas in your house. Act quickly, because they spread and reproduce in blink of an eye. Combine natural and special remedies to reach maximum effect.
Of course, prevention is better than cure. And it’s better to avoid bringing them to your house. In most cases, pets serve as the source of fleas, which is why you should protect them from parasites. How it can be done?
- Don’t let your cat or dog scavenge and contact with infected animals.
- Check the fur from time to time. Examine the skin and hairs for small black-brown dots that are flea feces.
- Clean animal bedding and surrounding areas from time to time.
- Pay attention to your pet’s behavior: if it keeps scratching more often than usual, it may be suffering from flea bites and itching. Besides, the animal can be somewhat depressed and irritated.
- Doctors also advice taking some certain internal and topical medications for pets.
- Clean your house and vacuum carpets at least once or twice a week. Flea eggs are often located in carpet fluff.
- Treat the territory around your house with insecticides, especially in places where a pet spends a lot of time.
- Buy a flea collar and put it on your pet’s neck every time it is being walked. If you own a cat, it can wear a collar constantly, if not disturbed by it much.
If your pet and you are not irritated by the smell of herbs and plants, you can spread them around your house. Lemon spray repels bugs, it can be applied on furniture, the floor, and dog’s coat. Rosemary Flea Dip can be made for the same purposes.
Cedar oil also repels fleas and is very safe in use. You can apply it in dog’s environments and on the animal itself. A good prevention measure is cedar pillow, or dog bed! It will keep the bugs at bay, and you will need to replace the chips once in 3-6 months.
Pennyroyal herb is also a very strong repellent that decreases flea fertility and can even kill them. Oil or dried leaves should be left in severely infested places. But protect your pets from it, because it may cause fertility problems in cats and dogs!
How to Protect Children From Flea Bites?
Kids are more prone to get bitten by fleas, because they love playing with animals and do not understand possible danger exposed by scavenging cats and dogs. Moreover, their sensitive skin easily swells and reddens after bites, and they can’t resist willing to scratch them.
What can be done to prevent flea bites on children? Try to do everything possible to protect your kid, for instance:
- Limit or exclude contact with infected pets. Don’t let children strike and play with homeless animals.
- Keep your house clean, and if you have pets, keep their health under control, always checking coat for fleas.
- If your child visits an infested house, examine clothes and hairs for fleas after returning home.
Fleas are among the most annoying and harmful pests in the world, and if you own a pet, you’re at the risk of meeting these bugs one day or another. But if you know how to treat flea bites, the entire infestation and cure will pass quickly, and with minimum consequences.