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Everything You Need to Know About Flea bites

What are flea bites?

Flea bites are small, discolored bumps on the skin caused by fleas consuming human blood. Fleas are wingless, small insects. They have flat bodies and are dark brown or black in color. They have six legs with strong claws on the base of their legs for gripping a host and mouthparts that penetrate the skin and feed on blood. They can jump over 12 inches because their hind legs are longer and stronger than their middle and front legs.

There are around 2,500 different flea species in the world.

Flea bites rarely have long-term consequences. For a short time, they produce mild inconvenience and irritation. The real issue with it is that they could transmit diseases that are serious.

Where are fleas usually found?

Generally, fleas thrive on cool, wet locations with plenty of shade outside. They like to be in the vicinity of trees, leaves, tall grass, and shrubs. When animals pass through these places, fleas jump onto them. Fleas live in the ears, neck, back, and belly of dogs, cats, and other animals. They may jump off an afflicted animal and hide once inside the home. They like to hide under carpets, furniture, bedding, and floor cracks.

Why do they bite?

Fleas, both male and female, feast on blood. Baby fleas (larvae) feed on the blood-rich adult flea faeces in some flea species, particularly those that regularly afflict dogs and cats. Flea dirt is another name for flea excreta. 

Fleas bite humans. The flea species that typically afflict dogs and cats, do not live on people. Humans have substantially less hair than dogs and cats. Fleas prefer animals with a lot of fur because it makes it easier for them to hide.

What are the symptoms?

Flea bites show a variety of symptoms. They itch a lot, and the skin around each bite can become inflamed. Near the bite site, the individual may suffer hives or develop a rash. Scratching too much might cause more damage to the skin and possibly a bacterial infection in the bite area. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid scratching. Keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of infection, such as white-topped blisters or a rash, on the bites.

How will an individual find out if it’s a flea bite?

Flea bites are a little different from other insect bites. A tiny, brownish lump appears after a flea bite. Around the bite, a discolored ring may appear. They are are not as large as mosquito bites. The bite pattern and location are also distinct. Flea bites frequently occur in a line or cluster. Fleas prefer to bite the legs, particularly feet, calves, and ankles. It’s a good idea to examine pets for fleas if they are scratching more than usual and seem agitated. 

What are the possible complications linked to a flea bite?

The complications associated can be divided into two. They are:

  1. Allergic reactions 
  2. Secondary infections

The following symptoms after a flea bite require immediate medical attention:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Nausea
  • Swelling of face and lips

An infection of the flea bite is caused when the person has swollen glands, extreme pain and redness around the bitten area. Fleas are also capable of carrying diseases and transmitting them through bites. Such diseases could include Spotted fever, Plague, Endemic murine typhus and Cat scratch fever.

How are flea bites treated?

Flea bites do not require treatment. They heal with the help of over-the-counter medications like anti-itch creams or ointments. However, if the infection does not cure, the patient is required to consult a physician.

How to prevent flea bites and itchiness?

When bitten by a flea, it is advisable not to scratch the area of the flea bite. The skin may break and gets exposed to infection. If the skin breaks accidentally, it’s recommended to keep the area clean. Wash the infected area with soap and water. Usually, flea bites last a few days. Some of the following options can be tried to get rid of the flea bite after consulting a healthcare provider.

  • Antihistamines – These are commonly used for flea bite treatment. A chemical created by the body’s immune system (histamine) is released each time an allergen is encountered. Histamine makes the flea bite to itch. Therefore, an antihistamine can be taken in the form of a pill or can be applied directly on the flea bite site.
  • Hydrocortisone –It helps to relieve itching and swelling. 
  • Ice – The amount of blood flowing to the affected area is slowed down with the help of ice. This reduces inflammation, swelling, pain and itchiness. Using a light towel, the ice pack is applied over the infected area for about 10 minutes to relieve pain.
  • Aloe vera – It is a succulent plant that has gel in its leaves. This gel contains salicylic acid which helps to relieve pain and itching. Aloe vera can be applied directly to the infected area.

How can you prevent flea bites?

Getting rid of the fleas can help prevent flea bites. So, it is always recommended to keep checking  pets around the ears, neck, back and belly. Some of the removal options for flea are:

  • Flea comb 
  • Flea shampoo – Apply flea shampoo on pets and make them sit in a tub of warm water. Make sure the shampoo does not come in contact with the pet’s eyes and mouth. 
  • Medicine – Flea medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, should be given to the pets. Some drugs are given by mouth, while other drugs are used on a temporary basis by applying on the skin.
  • Wash the bedding – The pet’s bedding should be washed regularly using hot water. The bedding has to be dried on the highest heat setting.
  • Vacuum clean – Carpets, rugs and fabric furniture’s used by the pets has to be cleaned using a strong vacuum cleaner. The vacuum contents should be emptied immediately, sealed and thrown outside to avoid any infection.

How can you differentiate a mosquito bite from a flea bite?

Mosquitoes are small insects that fly and feed on human blood to secrete saliva into the bloodstream. The bites of a mosquito look different from that of a flea bite. A small, raised bump is formed after a mosquito bite. 

How can you differentiate a bed bug bite from a flea bite?

Bed bugs are similar to fleas in feeding off blood and secreting saliva to the bloodstream. Though bed bug bites look similar to flea bite, a distinct or zigzag pattern is often noted. Usually, bed bugs are active at night and bite the skin that is exposed while sleeping. It can bite the face, hands, arms, feet and legs.

What are the tips to remove fleas?

The following are the ways to get rid of fleas at home:

  • Pets and the home should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, as fleas have the capability of surviving for more than 100 days.
  • The dust bag from vacuum cleaners should be cleaned after every use. 
  • Clean and vacuum the furniture, bedding and clothing regularly. 
  • Make sure that your pets get the recommended anti-flea medications.

Most fleas affect household pets. They harm pets more than humans at home. It is essential to maintain good hygiene at home with pets.

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