These small blood sucking insects known as fleas live on blood from humans and animals. Their bites not only cause non stop itching and rashes that lead to inflammation, but they also spread a variety of diseases that can be fatal to those bitten. Fleas can pierce through skin, injecting an anticoagulant through their saliva that prevents the blood from clotting and is mainly the reason for the signs of a flea bite. Young fleas feed often unlike the adult fleas that can last a month or two without having to feed on blood.
Types of Fleas
There are 5 kinds of fleas that all feed on blood and can be found in any country around the world. These fleas are carriers of bacteria causing diseases that can be transmitted to humans, dogs and cats. These fleas are:
- Ctenocephalides Canis otherwise known as dog fleas
- Ctenocephalides Felis otherwise known as cat fleas
- Xenopsylla Cheopis otherwise known as rat fleas
- Echidnophaga Gallinacea otherwise known as hen fleas
- Pulex irritans otherwise known as human fleas
Fleas can cause severe skin infections as well allergic reactions and fatal diseases from one host unto another as they feed on one and then another, easily transmitting diseases. When a flea bites an animal or human, the skin will itch so badly that can lead to raw or broken skin and bleeding. This infection of the irritated skin is easily attacked by bacteria. Fleas can transmit the bubonic plague, murine typhus and tapeworm larvae. Should a flea bite appear to be infected or does not dry up, medical advice should be taken and treated with the necessary antibiotics. At any time, should symptoms suddenly arise after a flea bite, the attending doctor or health care provider should be advised of these flea bites.
What to Do About Fleas
As eradication of fleas is somewhat complicated and may require a generous treatment within the home and outside. Homes will need to be completely cleaned top to bottom, with extensive cleaning of carpets, pet bedding and furniture and any areas inside and outside the home where pets are prone to stay. This also calls for pets being treated as well. The diseases these fleas may spread can be cured when seen to immediately but the prevention of fleas itself can cost pet owners a lot every year.
Normally, a flea bite may show up as a small red circular or oval bump that itches for several days. However, in certain cases, it may include rashes, hives, severe itching and a reddish halo surrounding the bump. Fleas usually bite on the lower legs, ankles and around the waist area. They also aim for areas where clothing may be tight or where elastic bands or garters stick to the skin. Unlike adults, children are prone to having severe reactions to flea bites. As for pets, pet owners begin to realize that their pets are being attacked by fleas when they constantly scratch due to severe itching and thus lead to hair loss as well in pets.
As soon as a flea bite is spotted, it should immediately be treated to avoid it from itching. Scratching it can only lead to skin infections that can also become severe. The bitten area should be cleaned with an antiseptic or antiseptic soaps and cold water. Warm or even hot water can worsen the itch. Apply ice packs on the flea bites for about 3 to 4 times a day to reduce any inflammation or swelling. The skin should be alright after a few days after that.
Another natural and effective way to treat flea bites is to use tea tree oil. Soak cotton swabs in a fair amount of tea tree oil and apply them on the inflamed area of the flea bite. This can be done an number of times through the day especially when itchy. Bites will heal in a few days time.
Over the counter skin ointments can help in reducing itchiness, such as calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream. These will also assist in preventing other skin infections. However, for those with sensitive skin, oral antihistamine can be taken as treatment to reduce the itchiness.
Preventing Flea Bites
The only way to stop getting flea bites is to prevent them from living on our pets and in our homes. Preventing the infestation of fleas is the most important way. Be sure that your pets are being treated accordingly to prevent any fleas living off them. Make it a habit to spray your house with the suggested safety treatments. Vacuum your rugs and carpets and couches constantly making sure you didn’t miss a corner. Wash your carpet with carpet shampoo or disinfectant shampoos that can be bought in supermarkets, as they can kill fleas with their chemical content. Spray the step leading to your garden and the kennel with a suitable insecticide to eliminate any stray fleas.
As fleas multiply especially in the warm weather of spring and summer, these are the times when prevention is most important. We get flea bites from fleas that are found on our pets, so make it a regular habit to check your pets for fleas as well. Dogs and Cats love to stray outdoors and we cannot be sure if they are still flea clean when they come back home. To be assured that they are kept safe, it would be best to use a topical treatment that carries Fipronil and S-Methoprene that are active ingredients into eradicating fleas from your pets. Fipronil can kill an adult flea by paralyzing it and then slowly killing it. S-Methoprene on the other hand is a growth regulator that can stop the lifecycle of a flea egg and larvae. Bathe your pet and give them a good combing. There are effective flea combs that can help in picking up any fleas living on your pet’s hair. Natural remedies are very effective too.