Flea bites are not dangerous but they can be very frustrating. It is not rare for owners of cats or dogs to suffer from flea bites occasionally. However, flea bites can be easily mistaken for other insect bites so it is important to know their symptoms.Fleas are tiny insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. They do not have wings but they are great jumpers. Their body is flat and their mouth is round, with sharps jaws. When they attack, they pierce the skin with the jaws and suck the blood out. In order to keep the blood flow steady, fleas inject, through their saliva, and a small amount of anticoagulant. It is the anticoagulant, and not the bite itself, that causes the skin reaction and the symptoms of flea bite.
Although fleas are not dangerous in most cases, they can transmit serious diseases like typhus and bubonic plague.
Symptoms of flea bites
After the insect bites, the symptoms usually do not show up for a few hours, but when they do, they are sudden. Because a flea moves restlessly around, it does not bite just once, and a person can have several different flea bites from just one insect.
This results in a cluster of small red bumps on the skin that have a red halo around a tiny hole, through which the blood is sucked.
The main symptom of flea bites, apart from the red spots, is itching. Itching can range from mild to severe and can last for several days without subsiding.
In some cases the itching can be very intensive so the affected person scratches very hard and makes skin lesions. Those lesions can get infected and may require medical assistance.
The symptoms of flea bites usually appear on lower parts of the body, like feet, ankles and legs, because the fleas that live on the floor can only jump so high. However, it is not rare for them to bite on the other parts of the body, especially in the fold joints like elbows, wrists and armpits.
Treatment for flea bites
In case of a flea bite, the first thing to do is to clean the area with antibacterial sopa, using cold water, and not hot or warm, because high temperatures can aggravate the itching and the swelling.
After that, it is recommended to apply ice, wrapped in a clean cloth, which will alleviate the itching and reduce the swelling.
Over-the-counter Hydrocortisone ointments can be applied to reduce irritation and inflammation.
In more severe cases, doctors usually prescribe oral antihistamines for allergic reactions and Calamine ointments to reduce itching.
In order to prevent further flea bites it is important to check the pets and take them to the vet who will prescribe a flea powder or a similar product. The house should be cleaned and checked for fleas as well, and if there is an infestation it is best to call flea control professionals.