Is It a Flea Bite?: Symptoms and Treatments
Flea Bites Bite!
Fleas are tiny, irritating insects. Their bites are itchy and sometimes painful, and getting rid of them is hard. They reproduce quickly, especially if you have pets in the household. Professional pest control treatment may be required. Even if you don’t have pets, your yard can potentially play host to fleas, and you may end up with a bunch of mysterious bites. Click “Next” to learn how to identify flea bites, as well as how to deal with a flea problem.
What Are Fleas?
Fleas are tiny bugs. They don’t grow much larger than the tip of a pen, and they range from light brown to almost black in color. They get around by jumping from place to place, as they don’t have wings. They’re also almost impossible to get rid of without a pesticide treatment. Their thin, flat bodies and hard shells mean you often need to squeeze them between finger nails or two hard surfaces to kill them. Even then, where there is one, many often follow.
What Do Flea Bites Look Like?
Flea bites are pretty distinctive. They remain small, unlike mosquito bites. If a flea bites you, you may experience one or more of the following visible signs:
- bites that appear as small, red bumps
- a red “halo” around the bite center
- bites in groups of three or four, or in a straight line
- bites that appear around the ankles or legs (their most likely location)
Flea bites are also common around the waist, armpits, breasts, groin, or in the folds of the elbows and knees.
What Are the Symptoms of a Flea Bite?
Flea bites exhibit several common symptoms. They are very itchy, and the skin around each bite may become sore or painful. You may experience hives or develop a rash near the site of a bite. Additionally, excessive itching can lead to an infection.
Can Flea Bites Cause Other Problems?
For humans, the risk of contracting another disease from the flea is very, very small. (That’s not true for your pets, however. Have them seen by a vet if they have fleas.) However, flea bites are very itchy. The more you scratch them, the more likely you are to open your skin and cause a secondary infection. Avoid scratching if you can, and monitor your bite areas for signs of an infection, including white-topped blisters or a rash.
If I Have Fleas in My House, How Will I Know?
If you have a four-legged furry animal in your home, you probably know exactly where fleas are found. Fleas prefer to live on your pet dog or cat, but they can also take up residence on another animal, or even you. If the population grows, fleas can branch out and begin living in carpets, bedding, or your yard. A bad flea infestation can be very obvious. Try walking on your carpet wearing white socks. Look at your socks afterward. If you see tiny black bugs, those are likely fleas.
I Don’t Have Pets. Could I Still Have Flea Bites?
Yes, fleas will bite pet-less humans, too. If you don’t have a pet, your flea bites are likely coming from your yard, or potentially your neighbor’s animals. Fleas prefer tall grass and shaded areas near decks, woodpiles, or storage buildings. If you find yourself battling tiny red bites after a day in your yard, you might need to consult a pest control expert about the possibility of a flea problem in your yard. Just as pet owners have to treat their homes if they become infested, getting rid of an outdoor flea infestation may require you to treat your yard.
How Are Flea Bites Treated?
Flea bites will go away on their own. However, in order to stop the flea bites, you have to stop the fleas. Your pet and your home will need to be treated with pesticides to kill the fleas. Professional pest control experts should administer these treatments. In most cases, you will need to leave your home for several hours after the treatment is applied. Do-it-yourself home treatments are available for fleas, but if they do not work, you may need to seek professional help.
Relieve the symptoms of flea bites with over-the-counter anti-itch creams and antihistamine medications. Avoid scratching the area. If you notice signs of an infection at the bite site, such as a white pocket or rash, make an appointment to see your doctor.
Get Rid of Fleas for Good!
The best way to identify a possible flea bite is to find out if you have a flea problem. Check your pet by moving back their fur to look for flea bites on the skin. If they have been scratching more frequently, this may be a sign they’ve got fleas. If your pet has fleas, you need to get them and your house treated. Take your pet to the vet, and then have your home treated professionally by a pest control expert. Only then can you control your flea bites and prevent further itchy, scratchy bumps.
- Controlling Fleas and Ticks on Your Pets. (2012, January 23). The Human Society of the United States. Retrieved September 1, 2013, from http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/controlling_flea_ticks_pets.html
- Fleas. (2012, November 20). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved September 1, 2013, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001329.htm
- Hey! A Flea Bit Me! (2013, April). The Nemours Foundation. Retrieved September 1, 2013, from http://kidshealth.org/kid/ill_injure/bugs/flea.html