A flea is a wingless parasitic insect that feeds off the blood of birds, humans and other mammals. Although fleas don't have wings, they can travel large distances as they are adept jumpers. Fleas are less prone to bother humans than they are to feed off of furry and feathered creatures, but they will move to humans after a pet has been gone from the home for some time and they need a food source with no other alternative.
Where Fleas Bite
Flea bites on humans will present in the form of hives around the waist, ankles, armpits and in the bends of the elbows and knees. Fleas tend to gravitate to where your clothing is tightest, including the waist of trousers, under your bra and where clothing folds at the knees or arms. Some find that fleas will also gravitate to areas where hair is more prominent, such as a man's forearms.
Human reactions to flea bites may vary. Most will experience localised redness. Itching also occurs in a similar fashion as you would experience with a mosquito bite as fleas inject saliva when they bite, the same as a mosquito does. Multiple flea bites may have the appearance of a rash or hives. As time goes on, more skin may be affected with the rash and lesions may grow in size. Do not scratch as this will cause further skin irritation and prompt the sore to grow in size.
It is important not to scratch as this will cause sores to worsen and may cause a secondary infection. Wash bites with an antiseptic soap. This will help to dry the sore and prevent infection. Lotions that lessen itching, such as calamine lotion, may provide you with some temporary relief. Ice packs can be used to decrease swelling of bites. Antihistamines may also be used to decrease swelling and minimise itching. It is important to be checked for tapeworms following a flea infestation as fleas may transmit this parasite to humans and pets.
Dealing With an Infestation
One of the most challenging aspects of treating fleas is getting rid of the problem to prevent more bites. An insecticide may be used to treat the home, however, ensure that pets and small children are not around during use. Thoroughly clean animal bedding and any fabric pet toys. Also be mindful of areas that are likely going to attract fleas such as area rugs, fabric furniture, blankets and baskets. Thoroughly clean or dispose of these items. Vacuum carpets and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately. Use an insecticide in outdoor areas frequented by your pet as well. If home treatment is not effective, a professional exterminator may be required in order to ensure the fleas are completely removed from your home.