Flea bites are often the first sign you will notice when you have an infestation, you will suddenly notice you are being bitten by unknown bugs. Flea bites are like many other bites and to a human can be a real misery especially if you have sensitive skin.
The flea bite is easy to identify, they are usually quite small and cause a red round circle approximately 3-4mm in diameter. They do not cause a severe swelling reaction but the flea bite can be intensely itchy locally. The flea bites are primarily found on the lower legs and ankles as you disturb them as you walk through a room. Fleas are primarily opportunistic they don’t really like the taste of human blood but if that is all that is available they will take a bite and feed.
Infection from flea bites is rare as infection tends to come from us when we scratch we may have bacteria on our hands from a secondary source which is transferred onto the flea bite itching area when we scratch. Once the surface of the skin has been compromised by the scratching the bacteria invade the already irritated skin surface and from that a localised infection can occur. If you are prone to sensitive skin it is a good idea to have a topical anti- itch cream preparation available to reduce the chance of this occurring.
Fleas can transmit diseases such as:-
Cat Scratch Disease (Bartonella henselae infection)
Although the name maybe misrepresented as the bacteria are not only found in cats, dogs also carry the disease and it can be transmitted via fleas. The disease will be transferred to a human from the cat or dog via a minor scratch or bite.
Flea Allergy / Flea Dermatitis
This is caused by the reaction that the saliva from the flea has with the host. Cats’ dogs’ rabbits and humans all can have a severe reaction to the saliva causing a range of symptoms from red rashes to such excessive scratching that it causes sores, loss of fur, and localised bacterial infection.
Is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis it is very rare in the human population these days and can be effectively treated with antibiotics if it is diagnosed
Flea Borne Typhus
Is caused by Rickettsia typhi (murine typhus) or Rickettsia felis (flea-borne spotted fever), and is spread by the rat flea and cat flea.
Fleas also transmit the tapeworm parasite that children may be susceptible to by inadvertently ingesting an infected flea which would grow in their intestines causing causing anemia and diarrhoea.
Flea Bite Treatment
Flea bites can and do occur everywhere on the body depending on the infestation. Children can unwittingly lie on the floor and succumb to bites all over with the more sensitive areas causing more of a response. Young children can be quite traumatised by the many bites and the itching; immediate treatment will be to place the whole child (if the bites are all over the body) if necessary into a cool bath of water to reduce the itching and using a mild non scented soap wash the affected area as this can neutralise the itching. The cool water takes the swelling which may be occurring due to the child scratching the skin; cold compacts have the same effect if it is a small localised area. Treatment of the flea infestation is a real priority at this point and removing pets and children from the room while treatment occurs is a must. The pet or pets must be treated concurrently so as to prevent re- infestation.