Can humans get fleas? Fleas are very opportunistic creatures, and although they are normally associated with dogs and cats and other pets, they will in fact bite any warm-blooded vertebrate that is available, including humans. Fleas require blood in order to reproduce and will extract that blood from whatever host is available in their environment. This article will help you identify and treat flea bites on humans and also show you how to eradicate the infestation from your home to prevent more bites.
What do flea bites on humans look like?
A flea bite looks like a red, circular bump similar to a mosquito bite, but usually larger, and has a single puncture wound in the center. (See the picture of flea bites on a human leg to the left for reference.) The red area around the puncture wound is referred to as a “halo” and the affected area will be raised and swollen. Flea bites on humans often appear in clusters in one area of the body and are frequently located on the extremities: arms, legs, feet, and ankles. They also sometimes appear around the waistband of your clothing, as a fleas can attach themselves there.
When the flea bites through the skin, it injects chemicals which act as both an anesthetic, which helps keep the blood from clotting, and also an anesthetic, which diminishes tactile sensation in the human so that its work can go undetected. These chemicals cause an allergic reaction in the human that causes the itching and swelling of the flea bites.
How to treat flea bites on humans
Flea bites generally heal on their own in a matter of a few days just like most other insect bites. Although flea bites can be quite itchy, take care not to break the skin with scratching because this will cause them to be more prone to infection and take longer to heal. Anti-cortisone cream and calamine lotion both work quite well to reduce the itching and inflammation. In case of an open wound, clean and disinfect the area with soap and water and apply an anti-bacterial agent, and if necessary, cover and protect the wound with gauze or a band aid.
Eradicate the flea infestation in your home
Flea larvae can remain dormant for months and even years waiting for an opportunity to awaken and reproduce. The dormant flea larvae are stimulated by the vibration of a moving animal or human and can instantly emerge from their dormancy to obtain to bite a host and obtain blood. Because of this, it is imperative that you take the proper steps to kill the flea eggs and larvae in your home.
Although fleas do bite humans, they are more often carried by pets and other animals that are in and around the home because an animals fur is easy for a flea to attach to and hide in. So if you have pets in your home, the first step to eradicating fleas on humans is to kill the ones on your cats and dogs. Fortunately, modern prescription flea medication for cats and dogs is quite effective at killing both live fleas and their eggs, usually within 24 hours. The most popular commercial brands are Advantage and Frontline, and are either given orally or are applied topically to the skin of your pet. Both are generally well tolerated by cats and dogs and show little side effects.
After your pets have been treated, the next step is to kill the fleas, eggs, and larvae throughout the interior of your home. A favorite hiding place is in carpet and furniture where it is easier to attach and hide. Thoroughly vacuum all the floors, furniture, and counter tops in your home and dispose of the vacuum bag. Next, there are a variety of commercial flea killers you can use to treat your home including flea traps, carpet powders, flea bombs and foggers, etc. And if all else fails, a professional exterminator may be utilized, but this is usually only necessary in extreme cases.
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