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!
My dogs has fleas, and I am as embarrassed as a school nurse who's child has been sent home from school with head lice! As a dog groomer and enthusiast, it would seem I am horribly neglectful for allowing such a thing to happen. I'm one of those diligent groomers that dispenses advice on preventing flea infestations. So how could such a thing happen to me?
Well, for those of you who have witnessed the agony of a dog infested with fleas knows that all a poor dog can do is lick, bite, scratch and chase his butt in circles to defend himself from these pesky creatures. I have been using a spot on topical for years. I was very proud of my flea-free record until my Schnauzer Tilde began biting herself raw in some spots. Befuddled by this sudden "condition" she developed I raced her to the vet in a panic. "Does she have any fleas?" he asked, in that calm, clinical doctor voice. "No, I checked, and haven't seen any," I replied, while thinking that he knows something that I haven't a clue about. He rolled her over on her back to examine her belly, and low and behold, there was one lone flea running across her belly. That one flea was all it took to send her into an allergic response that drove her to bite herself down to the skin!
I have an awesome vet, and he gave me the lowdown on flea prevention, which I am sharing, in part, with you. I also did further investigation of the pesticides I had been using and the clinical results*. So here's my advice to all of you wondering what to do to prevent fleas.
- Understand that there is no such thing as prevention. I don't know why they use the term, because in reality there is no such thing. Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and worms are all around, and a force of nature. Your dog will is going to come in contact with fleas at one point or another in its lifetime, so it's really about how you manage them. Control is the key to living with fleas.
- Learn about parasites. The more you know, the more equipped you are to deal with them. Just knowing when they are the most active, and the kinds of natural and man-made pesticides available to deal with them will aide you in keeping them in check.
- Learn whether your breed of dog is susceptible to reactions from the pesticides on the market. I have seen dogs loose the hair around their neck from some flea collars, and others go into a anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction to certain ingredients of a spot-on treatment.
- Choose a treatment program that you will stick to. Take me for example. I really don't like any sort of collar for the reason stated above. As a dog collar designer, I also don't think these collars are very attractive, so I opted for the spot-ons. Yes, they are more expensive, a little messy, and must be applied with care as you are handling a pesticide chemical. But when Tilde developed her flea dermatitis, I had to move on to Comfortis, a pill application with a higher effectiveness rate (and higher price tag) than a spot-on. And you need to order ample supply so you don't run out (as I didn't do - lesson learned).Which leads me to the next point...
- Have a back up plan. Sometimes the flea will prevail, and you will need immediate treatment. There are are few options, and most are 100% effective. A flea bath, for example, is one of the most effective ways to rid a dog immediately of fleas. You can get both natural and chemical versions. Capstar, and oral pill, is another option. It begins working immediately. Just remember to follow up with your control plan right away, as these methods do not prevent new fleas from appearing or larvae (eggs left behind) from hatching. If you don't have a back up plan, that's when things get out of control.
- Never let your guard down. Unfortunately, that's what I did. Whatever method of control you use, stick to the regimen. I let my dog's monthly spot-on treatment slide about a week or two. As most topical treatments have an effectiveness rate of about 70%, once you get past the recommended 30 day treatment cycle, the effectiveness drops to as low as 20%, That's as good as no protection at all.
- Be mindful of the residual effects of fleas. They will bite, and your dogs will react. Even when protected they can be bitten, and they will bite and itch, particularly their rear and nose, as these are the most common points of contact. If the reaction persists, then something may not be working with your control program. Sometimes it's just a reaction to a bite (think of your own reaction to mosquitoes or ticks), so have some skin remedies on hand to ease them of this, as flea control products do not resolve allergic responses.
Remember, it's all about control, and taking these steps will put you in the control instead of the flea - bringing peace of mind to you, and bodily peace to your dog!
* Small Animal Dermatology, George H. Muller, Robert Warren Kirk, Danny W. Scott, Craig E. Griffin
How To Kill Fleas Instantly
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.