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."
Flea Bites on Humans
The domestic cat is the primary host of the common flea. It can maintain a life cycle on other carnivores and is responsible for most dog flea infestations. A human can be bitten by it but cannot become infested.
After the female flea lays it eggs on its host, it migrates from the hair coat of the host to the body. The larvae hide from the light and feed on dried blood. When the flea is fully developed, it jumps to a new host and immediately starts to feed on blood.
Flea allergy dermatitis develops when a cat has an allergic reaction. Large infestations can cause dehydration. It can transmit parasites to animals and humans. Bartonella, murine thypus, and tapeworm are some examples.
Pulicosis or flea bites is a skin condition caused by a flea. It begins with skin irritation after thr bite. It can develop into swelling of the bitten area, ertheyma, ulcers in the mouth and throat and soreness of the areolas. If these conditions are not checked, it can spread to the lymph nodes impacting the central nervous system.
If a cat becomes infested with fleas, the fleas need to be eliminated immediately to prevent tapeworms from developing. Over the counter sprays and powders are usually not strong enough. Flea collars treat the area around the neck. If the collar gets wet, it may become ineffective. Monthly medications prescribed by a veterinarian, given orally, topically or injected, work the best.
If a cat has fleas, a house has fleas. Vacuum everything in the house and immediately dispose of the vacuum bags. Wash bedding and linens in hot water. "Bomb'" the house with insecticide foggers. As soon as fleas appear, call a veterinarian who can recommend shampoos, foams, dips, sprays, oral and topical medications and foggers to use.
The spot on medications are becoming the most popular way to prevent fleas. They are effective and easy to apply. The medication is usually applied to the shoulder blades, absorb into the skin and protects the whole body. It kills the fleas within hours and is safer to a cat because of its lower toxicity. It can also withstand bathing.
Oral medications are recommended when frequent bathing is needed. The medication is usually administered in a monthly pill or chewable food form or 6 month injection. The medication does not kill fleas but prevents reproduction. If medication is not desirable, special metal flea combs are available to remove them.