Beside infesting and sucking off blood from your pets, flea bites on people too. Among all insects’ bites, flea bites on people are one of the most commonly seen.
Human can be bitten by a variety of fleas namely the dog flea, cat flea or the human flea. Fleas use their jaws to cut through the skin and then excrete their saliva containing enzymes and anticoagulant. The anticoagulant will prevents blood from clotting and enable the fleas to suck on the blood. The enzymes excreted cause all the allergic reactions seen on people.
What do flea bites look like?
Human flea bites generally occur along the ankles and lower portions of the legs. A flea bite can usually be described as a red spot accompanied by a halo of redness that can last for several hours depending on one’s reaction to it. It may causes a slight irritation or itch in some people while others with extreme allergies will sometimes break out into hives and have excessive swelling. Children tend to have more sensitive skin and as such, flea bites seen in children are usually more severe than in adults.
Treating Flea Bites
Before you run to your family doctor to seek medical treatment, here are some home treatments for flea bites that you may try especially if it’s just a mild case of allergy.
1. Wash affected area with a mild antiseptic soap or detergent
2. Put an ice pack over the affect area. This will help in reducing swelling and inflammation
3. Apply some calamine lotion to relieve the itch
4. A mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone which are easily available from a local pharmacy will be useful in relieving the swellings and itch more rapidly.
As always, prevention is better than cure. Fleas breed at a rapid rate and getting rid of fleas can be an uphill task. Flea control requires an integrated plan, which involves treating your pets, entire house, backyards and gardens. All these require both great efforts and persistence but will be all worthwhile when you get to finally declare your home flea free and bites free!
Spots was playing with Tippy, our neighbor's dog happily in the backyard. It was dinner's time and Spot came running home. Something just doesn't seem right about Spot.
She was scratching feverishly and could not stop through out the night. This scratching continues for couple of days more and it got worse. She started biting off patches of her fur, exposing raw inflamed skin throughout her body.
Does this sound all too familiar to you?
That's right, Spot has brought home a tiny friend and this friend of hers is the cause of all her misery. I guess you all may already know what's her name. Yes, it's "Fleas" and Spot is suffering from dog flea bites!
When flea bites, they excrete salvia which causes an allergic reaction in some dogs leading to skin eruption characterized by a red-spot surrounded by a reddened halo. It's accompanied with itch causing increased scratching resulting in hair loss, crust and erosions of the skin and pimple-like bumps. In severe cases, the skin becomes thicken and darkened. Hot spots may develop which appear as red oozing sores causing immense pain to your pet. (See some flea bite pictures)
Often, flea bites are most commonly found in areas like the lower back or tail and the thighs or abdomen areas.
Treatment of dog's flea bites depends on the severity of the allergic reaction.
Here are some simple home remedies for flea bites:
1. Bath your dog to keep it clean and prevent secondary infection. Always bath it with cold water and never use hot or warm water. Cold water will help in alleviating the inflammation as well as the itch while warm or hot water tend to stimulate itch.
2. Use fresh aloe vera juice to apply to the inflamed skin. Aloe vera has a soothing effect and it also promotes wound healing.
3. Supplement its diet with fatty acid like flaxseed oil, which has an anti-inflammatory effect.
In chronic cases, where the condition is bad and your dog is suffering from the constant intense itch, a visit to your vet may be necessary. Your vet may prescribe a steroid cream or a steroid jab and administer an anti-histamine to bring about a more rapid relief for your dog.
There are many natural products that are useful for treating dog flea bites. Check out Part 2 of this article on "Flea Bite Treatment."
7 Tips to Controlling Your Dog's Fleas
Fleas are more than just disgusting; they will carry several serious diseases, parasites and even weaken your dog's immune system. Also, fleas can bite the other pets & people in your house, leading to infestations, allergic reactions and possibly allergies & skin rashes. Fleas can be found almost everywhere on Earth, although they are usually more abundant in warm climates and in more southern or tropical locations. Keep in mind that dogs in kennels or anywhere where they frequently interact with other dogs are at a higher risk for flea infestations since not all dog owners are responsible with flea prevention.
Luckily, there are many effective topical solutions and other vet prescribed treatments to control & eliminate fleas in the house and on your dog's body. Several of the herbal and homeopathic flea controls are not quite as effective but still serve a purpose. There are also many ineffective and bogus over-the-counter flea control products that just don't work. Before picking flea control program, discuss with your vet and decide what will be the best approach for you and your dog.
The Life Cycle of a Flea
Despite being very annoying, fleas really do have an amazing life cycle and it is easy to see why they are so abundant around the world. A flea's whole lifecycle protects them and gives them the best possible opportunity to reproduce, which they do in very large numbers. To understand the life cycle of the flea the stages will be outlined below:
Eggs - the eggs are spawned in your dog's hair and are not attached to the root, instead, they are just deposited on the skin. This means that the eggs can drop off the dog onto bedding (yours or theirs), furniture, or even onto other pets. These eggs can survive for years under the right conditions. Each female flea can lay roughly 15-20 eggs per day and about 600 eggs during her entire lifespan. The eggs hatch very quickly in time periods ranging from a two days to two weeks, depending on the climate and other conditions.
Larva - roughly 30% of the fleas on a dog are in the larva stage at any given time. There are actually three distinct stages to larva but it is essential to understand that the larva are blind and avoid light at all costs. Dark areas are where they prefer to live. Creases in bedding and furniture are prime locations for larva to be discovered. They eat dried blood found in adult flea feces and dead skin. During this time they are not a true since they do not really suck blood or affect the dog's health. The larva stage will last between two weeks to a month or longer.
Pupa - the larva spins a cocoon and develops for between five days to fourteen days. During this time they do not eat anything but the cocoon might cause irritation to the dog's skin if it is on the body or in the bedding.
Adult fleas - adult fleas are the ones that do the biting and cause irritation. They bite the skin & suck small amounts of blood from the host, be it a dog, cat, other animal or human. Fleas will cause allergic reactions in most species that lead to scabs, dry and flaky patches of skin and possibly hair loss. Adult fleas will not reproduce without ingesting blood, but they can drop into a form of hibernation for many months if there is no blood available.
Be sure to plan for routine flea control and management for your dog. Carefully watch for any of the signs of fleas, like flea dirt, in the dog's coat. Flea dirt looks like small round dark balls that appear similar to large, black sand grains close to the skin. This is a positive sign of flea infestations and requires immediate treatment.