Flea Bites: Symptoms, Risks, and Treatment

Humans are not the meal of preference of fleas. They will bite humans but only as a second meal option. Fleas do not thrive on human flesh as they do with animals. Humans are not their host of choice.

flea on a white wall

Having pets usually means adopting their fleas as well. They are always a package deal. However diligent you may be with your pet’s hygiene and surroundings, fleas are a seasonal circus you need to deal with. Flea bites are itchy and can be quite irritating both for dogs and humans. If the flea infestation gets out of hand they may start camping out on your carpets and bedding. Getting rid of them is definitely a task but they can be controlled with pet products and sometimes with the help of professional pest control services. 

What Are Fleas? 

Fleas are insects that do not have wings but they are gifted with long hind legs which enable them to jump high and far! Their reproduction rate is rapid and can get out of control.  Owning a pet dog or cat certainly increases your chances of having a flea circus performing every day. 

Can You Still Have Fleas Even Without Pets? 

Yes. Fleas multiply crazy fast most especially if you have furry kids. However, they may still abound in your yard even without the presence of pets depending on the state of your surroundings. Fleas prefer living on your pets but they also like an environment with tall grass and shaded areas of your yard with piles of wood or storage shacks. If your pets are carrying fleas, it is best to also treat your homes and outdoor areas. 

Are Fleas Attracted To Humans? 

Humans are not the meal of preference for fleas. They will bite humans but only as a second meal option. Fleas do not thrive on human flesh as they do with animals. Humans are not their host of choice. 

Flea Bite Symptoms  

If you’ve been scratching like mad and not quite sure what’s been feasting on your skin, flea bites do have a distinct appearance that you can tell apart from mosquito bites. Unlike mosquito bites that leave big swollen, red bumps, flea bites remain tiny and become very itchy. Children and some adults may develop a bad reaction and manifest skin irritation. Hives or a rash may develop and the bite area becomes sore and painful. Most times, since the bites get very itchy – excessive scratching is the only relief and this can lead to lesions and secondary bacterial skin infection. 

What to Look For 

At the onset of finding mysterious bites on your skin, observe them closely and  you may see these flea bite characteristics :

  1. Small red bumps 
  2. Scab with a red ring or “ halo” around the center of the bite 
  3. Red bumps in a straight line or a cluster of four 
  4. Cluster bites seemingly concentrated on your ankles and lower leg, waist, armpits, 
  5. Elbows, groin, and breasts 

Treatment for Flea Bites 

You may panic at the sight of finding flea bites in certain areas of your body. But not to worry because flea bites heal on their own without treatment. However, you may apply anti-itching creams or lotion to relieve itching, prevent skin damage and possible infection. Should you notice any signs of changes in the bite wound such as lesions, oozing, and pus, make an appointment with a doctor. 

To treat flea bites at home, Wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water. Dry and apply your choice of topical anti-itch treatment.  Here are some simple home remedies you may use.

  1. Calamine lotion
  2. Anti-histamine creams 
  3. Cortisone creams
  4. Tea Tree oil 
  5. Vinegar and baking soda wash
  6. Lemon Spray
  7. Lavender + peppermint oil 
  8. Aloe vera gel 

Flea Away For Good! 

How do you know if your pets are flea-infested? Observe your pets if they keep scratching. Check by pulling back their fur and look for tiny insects that move fast and jump. Flea eggs and flea nests are also easy to spot. They will look like a clump of black sand on their fur with fleas burrowed into them.  Your carpet may also be a five -star living space for fleas! Put on a pair of white socks and walk around your carpet. If your carpet has a population of fleas, the underside of your socks will have tiny black bugs stuck to them. 

Although flea bites will eventually disappear from your skin, fleas will bite you again if you don’t get rid of them. To stop flea bites, you must get rid of fleas in your home and your pets simultaneously.  There are available pesticides for DIY home treatment of pets or you may take them to your vet. Your home will need a tougher kind of pesticide that can be tricky to handle on your own hence sometimes it is better to let the professionals handle it. It is most advisable to leave your home for a good number of hours after pest control servicing. 

Do Flea Bites Pose Any Risk of Disease to Humans? 

There are about 4 species of fleas that exist. Depending on the type of flea, reactions vary in different people.  Which fleas actually like to bite humans?

Human Flea (Pulex irritans)

This type of human flea can be found the world over but they are not as common in the United States. It likes to feed on mammals as well as birds, chickens. Although its name suggests it thrives on human flesh as it’s host, this species prefers guinea pigs.

Chigoe Flea (Tunga penetrans) 

More commonly called “ jiggers”, this species of fleas will burrow into the skin of its host and will remain there for good. Surgery is the only way to remove this parasite from its infected human host and will manifest with visible crusting, oozing, and pus. The fleas will cause this painful infection as it enters the body through the skin, but it is not a disease carrier. This type of flea is not found in the United States but is a common nuisance in Africa and South America 

Oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheapis) 

This flea is found worldwide and commonly infests rats, mice, and rabbits. They will eagerly bite humans and has been found to cause certain diseases such as the bubonic plague

Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) 

In the United States, this is the most common flea found on pets. Although they are in close proximity to humans due to its love for furry pets, they are not as fond of human hosts. However, they will bite and can carry certain diseases such as the plague, cat-scratch disease, and typhus. 

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