Fleas are tiny bugs that belong to a class of wingless insects from the order Siphonaptera. These parasites exclusively live by hematophagy, the consumption of blood from host organisms. Adult fleas are small (averages 2mm in size) wingless insects, with flattened and red-brown, with backwardly directed spines and legs designed for jumping. Adult fleas feed on the blood of humans and animals. The larval stages live in the nest of the host and feed on skin, feathers and, most importantly, the blood-rich feces of the adult flea.
Types of Fleas
Different types of fleas exist, and over 2000 varieties have been reported worldwide. Major flea species are categorized as cat flea, dog flea, human flea, rat flea, sticktight flea and springtail flea.
Dangers of Fleas to Humans and Animals
Humans do not usually host cat and dog fleas, but fleas in the home can pose a significant health risk to pet owners. Fleas can bite humans but do not actually live on their skin or hair. The bites are extremely itchy and cause great discomfort. Certain diseases such as cat scratch fever and plague can be carried by fleas and transmitted to humans. In some pets, flea saliva can cause allergic reactions such as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), and increased scratching can result in hair loss and secondary infections. In more severe cases, the skin thickens, and sores appear on the affected pet.
How Do Flea Bites Look
Flea bites result in red spots surrounded by reddened ‘haloes, ‘ and they exhibit several common symptoms. They are very itchy, and the skin around each bite may become sore or painful. One may also experience hives or develop a rash near the site of a bite.
Difference between Flea Bite and other Bug Bites
Flea bites are very distinctive, and they are common around the armpits, waist, groin, breasts, or in the folds of the elbows and knees whereas other bug bites can be found anywhere in the body. In comparison to other bugs, for instance, bed bugs, flea bites usually look like small clusters of dots while bed bug bites are red, hard and swollen a little. Usually, the fleas bite randomly on the body while bed bugs tend to bite more strategically in linear rows. Flea bites heal quicker than other bug bites, and they are much smaller.
Effects of Fleas on Allergic Individuals
Some people may experience allergic reactions when bitten by a flea. Painful and burning welts may appear if the bitten human is hypersensitive or has an allergic reaction to flea bites. The bites can be easily infected if one scratches them, resulting in open sores that are swollen, red, and filled with puss. In addition, excessive scratching can further damage the skin and cause a secondary bacterial infection. Individuals experiencing allergic reactions should stay away from infected areas and pets until treatment proves effective.
Flea Bite Treatment
For Flea Bite Treatment, try over-the-counter anti-itch creams and antihistamine medications such as Tea Tree Oil, Antiseptic soap, Hydrocortisone Lotion, Calamine lotion, antihistamine tablets, and Ice packs. These are non-prescription medications that can be bought at your local pharmacy or ordered online.
It is difficult to prevent your pets from getting Fleas. However, these tips can reduce chances of getting fleas and enhance flea removal. Apply veterinary approved Flea products to your pet on a regular basis, regularly wash your pets’ bedding and other washable items in very hot water, keep your garden neat and tidy by mowing your lawn and raking up and frequently vacuum the areas your pet is around, especially carpeted areas in and any furniture that is frequented by your pet.
The standard flea treatment method for infested premises is the application of a residual insecticide, as either a liquid spray or powder. Oral flea treatments such as Comfortis are quick and efficient. Newer combination pill treatments such as Sentinel and Trifexis also prevent heartworm disease and other intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Other flea treatments and removal methods for pets include Flea Sprays, shampoos and dips, collars and topical flea solution.