Anybody who’s suffered from a bad flea infestation knows how annoying Flea Bites can be. Not only do you have to watch your pet suffer and scratch at their fleas, but your bites can be quite horrible as well. The reason flea bites itch is that flea saliva contains an anti-coagulant that causes an allergic reaction and results in the small, itchy bump that you see.
The best thing you can do for flea bites is not scratch them, obviously. This is always more easily said than done, but the more you can do to not scratch, the better. However, there are a few tips to reduce how much the bites itch.
Among the most popular methods to relieve itching are calamine lotion, tea tree oil, vinegar and rubbing alcohol. Ice can also work temporarily by numbing the area of the bite. You might also try hand-sanitizer, anti-septic cream and sunburn remedies.
Obviously, the best thing to do as a long-term solution is get rid of the fleas themselves. This is not always easy to do, but if you follow some fairly simple steps, and stay with a careful and concerted program, you can succeed.
The first step is to kill the fleas on your pet. There are many topical pet flea treatments available, but probably the most popular is Frontline. Frontline comes in small, single-dose vials that are applied between the pets shoulder blades. The treatment then disperses out through the animal’s hair follicles and oil glands, and should provide protection for one month.
The next step is to get rid of the fleas in your home. This can be difficult to do with a serious infestation, but following a careful plan is the key. First, wash everything you can that might be infested with fleas, including pet bedding, cushions, carpets, etc. Throw them in the washing machine and wash with hot water and detergent.
The best thing you can do for fleas in your home is vacuuming. Vacuum your carpets and floors as much as possible, every day if you can, but at least three days a week. You can also buy some chemical sprays and foggers if you have a bad infestation. If you do this, make sure you buy a product that contains both an insecticide, such as pyrethrin, as well as an insect growth regulator (IGR) such as methoprene. This ensures that the spray will kill both adult fleas, as well as eggs, larva and pupae.
The key to this simple program is to continue to treat both your home and pet long past the time the fleas seem to be gone. If your pet stops scratching, still treat them with Frontline. If your home seems fine, don’t stop the frequent vacuuming. Fleas can be quite tenacious and hide out as eggs and larva, only to surprise you with a new infestation just when you think you’re in the clear.
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!
Flea Problems and Answers - How to Get Rid of Dog and Cat 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.