Fleas are blood-sucking parasites of mammals and birds. Adult fleas are wingless with the larvae characterized by its pale color and caterpillar-like appearance. It is important to note that fleas can travel far distances by jumping up to one hundred times their body length using their legs and a spring-like mechanism.
Only the adult fleas feed on blood using their piercing mouthparts while the larvae feed on debris in bedding as well as lint and dust debris in carpeting. The female fleas lay eggs in these areas and takes up to 2 weeks to hatch into larvae. It is important to note that fleas are resilient particularly in their pupae stage where they can survive in extreme temperatures for long periods of time without any food. The adult fleas are known to live 1-2 months without blood. It is interesting to note that fleas are stirred to hatch once warm-blooded creatures are within the vicinity of their territory. This is why it is easy for houses to become infested with fleas once new owners move in.
Reaction to flea bites
Flea bites are characterized as itchy, small-sized papules that are arranged in a non-follicular pattern in groups of three. They typically occur around the feet and lower legs since fleas tend to live in floorboards and carpets.
Flea bites can trigger papular urticaria which can be determined by the doctor through proper assessment. Papular urticaria is a hypersensitivity disorder which leads to recurrent and oftentimes chronic itchy papules on exposed parts of the skin with large-sized welts that are hot to the touch and painful.
Flea bites can become infected if they are scratched which introduces bacteria into the open sores. The infected flea bites will become sore, swollen and red in color. Take note that flea allergy can trigger respiratory signs and symptoms in some highly sensitive individuals.
Treatment of flea bites
The individual who sustained flea bites should be instructed not to scratch the bite site since fleas defecate while feeding, thus scratching the bite site will irritate the skin and introduce bacteria deeper into the skin and trigger an infection. An antihistamine take orally can be given to minimize the itchiness caused by the flea bites and even minimize the occurrence of any allergic reactions.
Topical antihistamines and antibacterial ointments along with tepid baths with oatmeal solution will help cleanse and soothe the skin when needed. The individual should avoid hot showers since hot water will actually worsen the itchiness. In addition, you should also ensure that the house and yard are completely treated for fleas, especially the larvae.
In case infestation of fleas is suspected in the house, it is best to call professional pest control services to completely eliminate the fleas. In doing so, family members will no longer end up with flea bites.