As a cat or dog owner you know the problem. As soon as the days get warmer and your pet is outside more often, it starts to itch on your legs. You have caught a flea. The small parasites are not really dangerous and far more harmless than head lice.
You will experience them at the latest with children of kindergarten and primary school age. Nevertheless, you should not underestimate the risks of fleas in humans.
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Flea Bites Or Flea Stings?
Both terms are correct. The bites are caused by the parasite with its biting tools, which it pushes through the skin in an acrobatic feat (standing on its head). In the end, it does not matter how you name the attack of a flea.
The fact is that the result is itchy and can be a problem for people with sensitive skin or allergies. No matter what you call it, fleas are usually not dangerous for humans. However, the thought of the parasites is unpleasant. Just as unpleasant is the itching, which you can best treat with a cooling gel.
How Long Do Fleas Survive In Humans?
Before the first meal, fleas survive in humans without food for up to 8 weeks. Once the parasite has literally laid blood, its survival time without a blood meal drops to just 24 hours.
This actually sounds like fleas are not a major problem and die quickly. But in reality, things are different. When fleas take up residence in your home, they find plenty of food. They always come out when you least expect it and, for example, when you are sleeping.
Important: Fight Fleas And Their Offspring
If you notice flea droppings on light-colored carpets or on your pet’s skin, you must act quickly. Important: Adult fleas are only a marginal part of the problem. Around 95 percent of the danger is posed by the brood, which finds good living conditions in carpets and upholstery.
It is therefore not enough if you only act against the flea infestation itself with a spot or a spray. Even if you don’t see a parasite: the larvae can be found in large quantities in the home textiles.
Flea larvae die at sub-zero temperatures and at temperatures of 60°C in the washing machine. You can take advantage of this knowledge if you want to eradicate all the causes of flea bites and their offspring.
How Does The Flea Get Into The House?
When fleas get to humans, they were usually carried into the home via pets. There they settle in the fur and can live unnoticed for a long time. At some point, they leave the host animal and nest in the upholstery, carpets, or blankets.
It won’t take long before the first flea bite occurs. Not only fleas, but also worms can be transmitted via pets. Therefore, regular checks of dogs and cats at the veterinarian are especially important for families with babies and small children.
The Flea In The Carpet
You want to make yourself comfortable on the sofa at the end of the day. But as soon as you sit down, put your legs on the runner in front of you, and want to relax, your calves and shins start itching.
Among all the textiles in your household, the carpet particularly attracts the unwanted parasite. If the dog occasionally lies on the runner, you do not have to question for a long time how the flea gets there and then on your skin.
Dog blankets are also textiles frequently colonized by fleas and the place where the parasites lay their eggs and lie in wait for hosts.
Do Fleas Transmit Diseases?
Can fleas cause disease in humans? Yes, the risk certainly exists. In the distant past, the parasite was feared as one of the carriers of the plague. Today, the risk of the plague is practically zero.
However, flea bites are often the cause of Lyme disease, typhus, swine fever and polio. Especially unvaccinated children are at high risk for polio from flea bites.
However, the risk of disease transmission to humans by fleas should not be underestimated for adults either. Cucumber nematode tapeworm can also be transmitted by fleas to humans, primarily to the smallest members of the family.
Flea Bite Or Allergy?
If you’ve never been bitten by fleas and don’t expect a parasite infestation in your own home, you might misjudge the symptoms. Itching associated with red raised patches is usually a sign of flea bites.
The visible wheals are closely spaced in an evenly appearing row. This is called a flea street and occurs because fleas use different areas of the skin for their meal.
The itching and the visible areas indicate a difference between a possible allergy and bites by fleas in humans.
Where Do Fleas Bite Most Often?
Flea bites most often occur where fleas get on humans and do not have to travel a long distance. If the parasite is sitting on the carpet, it will bite mainly on the ankles and lower legs.
If it has found a place in the upholstery, it will bite you on the loins and abdomen. If the pest has reached the bed and inhabits the mattress, flea bites all over the body are possible. Most flea bites are found on thin and therefore easily penetrated areas of skin.
Preventing Fleas – Is It Possible?
The best prevention aims to prevent fleas from entering your home in the first place. As cat and dog owners, this is of course difficult. But with regular treatments of the animals, especially in summer, the infestation can certainly be contained.
Flea collars and spots offer safe protection for your pet and also reduce the risk of animals transmitting fleas to humans and bringing them into your home. In pet households, carpets and upholstery should be checked and cleaned at regular intervals.
If a flea does get into the house, you can get rid of it before it reproduces and annoys you.
Check Pets Regularly For Fleas
Prevention plays a major role in protecting your pet from fleas. In 90 percent of all cases, fleas get to humans by being carried into the home by the animal. Flea collars and spots cost only a little money and exclude that the summer is spoiled for you by fleabites.
Important: Fleas are equally unpleasant for the pet. Does your dog scratch extensively and more often than usual? Then it’s time for an extensive search for flea droppings in his fur.
Fighting Fleas In The Apartment
In the trade there are some sprays on a chemical basis. They help against flea infestation but are not necessarily beneficial for your health. Better and helpful for small infestations is a spray bottle with a mixture of water and vinegar.
This not only helps with the direct treatment of pets but also scares away fleas in carpets and upholstery. You get them to jump up and see them. Now you can courageously use a folded newspaper to put an end to the flea.
Fleas In Humans From Wild Animals
With wild animals you come rather rarely in contact. Nevertheless, you can catch fleas from a hedgehog in your garden. As a rule, the exchange of parasites occurs from wild animals to domestic animals. When your dog tracks down a hedgehog and sniffs at it, fleas take their chance and jump over to the new host. From there, the parasite enters your home and eventually onto your body.
Can You Catch Fleas While Gardening?
Yes. The risk is low, but if you are gardening and a flea is waiting in the grass for a host, it could jump right on you. Padding on the patio and outdoor seating area also provides fleas with habitat and a place where the transmission can occur. Fleas get onto humans in a variety of ways and if they are on you, flea bites are bound to happen.
Treat Flea Bites
Cooling is the best method against itching. With special cooling gel from the pharmacy, you can relieve the swelling and reduce the annoying itching. Do not scratch, because this could lead to inflammation due to penetrating dirt. If a white purulent dome appears on a flea bite, dirt has entered the wound and the flea bites have become infected.
With Flea Bite To The Doctor?
Normally, you do not need to have flea bites treated. But exceptions prove the rule. If numerous fleas bite a person or if you have an allergic reaction, you should have a doctor look at the problem.
Especially in small children fleas can cause bigger problems. If, for example, there is a transmission of worms, the visit to the doctor is mandatory and without waiting time.
Fleas In Humans Do Not Come From Lack Of Hygiene
Like all parasites, fleas in humans cause disgust and are associated with poor hygiene. But flea bites are not a hygiene issue. They can strike anyone and wait for a host even in the cleanest household.
On the other hand, you can prevent flea infestations by carefully checking your pets. When summer comes, take a few minutes each day to look closely at your pets’ fur.
Fleas And The Risk Of Confusion With Other Parasites
Bed bugs have been on the rise again for some time. In the sighting, they are not to be confused with fleas. However, the bites of the vermin are visually reminiscent of flea bites and are therefore quickly confused.
In the inspection of your mattresses and upholstered furniture bed bugs do not remain undetected. If you are unsure whether it is a flea bite or a bed bug bite, take a close look at the bite area. Bed bugs leave bloody areas, while flea bites do not result in a bleeding wound.
Where Fleas Breed
Warm and humid is the habitat that fleas prefer and feel comfortable in. The pet or human is only the host. To reproduce and lay their eggs, the vermin look for an undetectable, usually dark and pleasantly warm place.
This can be a carpet, but also the blanket in the dog’s basket or the bath mat. The best way to find out the place of retreat of fleas is to carefully observe the place where you have bitten.
Summer – The Season For Fleas
Summer time is flea time. Fleas in humans and animals become a nuisance as the temperature rises. This is contrasted with winter when flea bites are a rarity. Only if control in the fall has not worked and new larvae have hatched can flea bites become a problem in the cold season.
New infestations of pets can be ruled out during the winter. If there is a problem, it is usually in carpets and upholstery. These are the offspring of fleas, which have already been successfully controlled.
Caution, But No Reason To Panic
Fleas in humans can transmit diseases and get in the way of well-being in your own four walls. But there is no reason to panic. The risk of infection is vanishingly small for a healthy adult.
Older people and small children, on the other hand, are at greater risk. Here, hygiene plays a particularly important role. If you discover flea bites on your child’s skin, observe them carefully. As a rule, they disappear after a few days. If this is not the case, go to the pediatrician and get reassurance.