Flea Bites on Humans: Symptoms and Treatment — Pests Gone Now

Flea Bites on Humans: Symptoms and Treatment

If you have ever had an experience with fleas, you can testify that they are tiny and irritating insects. They bite and their bites are itchy and sometimes painful. The other thing is that getting rid of them can be hard.

Fleas are one of the most rapidly producing insects in the world. What this means is that if swift actions are not taken, they can develop and establish large colonies. One thing that people usually confuse is thinking that fleas are only associated with pets. The reality of the matter is that your yard can potentially play a host to them.

Table of Contents

What are Fleas?

These insects are tiny bugs which don’t grow much larger than the tip of a pen. Fleas also range from light brown to almost black in color. Fleas only get around by jumping because they don’t have wings. If you decide to kill them manually by the use of bare hands, it can be hard. Their thin and flat body with hard shells means that you have to squeeze them hard on the fingernails or a hard surface to kill them. However, you have to note that it’s almost impossible to get rid of them on your own.

What do Flea Bites Look Like?

Flea are biting insects but the good thing is that their bites are pretty distinctive. Their bites remain small, unlike the mosquito bites. If a flea bites you, you will notice any of the below.

  • The bites appear as small, red bumps.
  • You are also likely to notice a red ‘’halo” around the bite center.
  • Their bites are also in a group of four or in a line.
  • The other thing is that fleas usually bite on the ankles or the legs.

Why do flea Bites Itch?

Flea Bites itch because of the saliva introduced on the wound. Flea saliva contains allergic materials that react differently with dissimilar people. The reaction depends on the individual’s previous exposure to the insect. There are five stages of sensation.

  • If you haven’t had any previous exposure to fleas bites, then a bite may not react.
  • With subsequent bites, however, delayed reactions will occur, usually after 24 hours.
  • With continued biting, then there’s a likelihood of both immediate and the delayed reactions occur.
  • More encounters diminish the delayed reactions intensity. Eventually, only the immediate reactions will occur.
  • With more exposure, complete immunity is reached.

In human beings, there are almost delayed reactions. You should note that children, who are still building their immunity, experience more intense delayed reactions than adults. For a kid to develop full immunity, at least 18 months of continued biting is needed. Even then, the immunity may not occur. However, immunity has mainly been observed in indigenous people of flea infested areas.

How do Fleas Bite

Fleas bite using their fascicle. The fascicle is composed of three slender stylets. The outer two are sharp, serrated structures called maxillary lacunae. These lacunae usually puncture the skin but fail to enter the blood vessels. The center stylet is likely to enter the blood vessels to draw blood. The stylets connect to the mouth using long ducts which eventually excretes large droplets of saliva which is introduced to the wound. Drops of the saliva fall on the puncture but usually not to the vessels.

The flea saliva contains antigenic materials which induce various immune responses in the host including the immediate and delayed reactions. The fleas will also take the time to probe the skin to get a clear feeding location. This probing actions will probably cause biting at each point. Saliva is introduced at each probe area, and that’s what makes it itch.

The flea saliva contains some small molecules of haptens which cause delayed reactions. A hapten is an incomplete antigen and won’t trigger an immune response by itself. However, once it is attached to a larger carrier, it becomes a complete antigen. This molecule binds with the collagen within the skin, triggering an immune response and hypersensitivity.

The other thing is that if a flea is disturbed while feeding, it may relocate to a near place. This relocation results in multiple bites.

Flea Bites Symptoms

There are people who wouldn’t develop any symptoms from flea bites. Only those with swift allergic reactions will develop immediate symptoms. The other fact is that flea bites don’t carry any diseases. However, small children and people who are allergic may have an adverse reaction.

The first symptom that you are likely to get in this case is swelling and itching. Your skin may become irritated and painful around the bite. In some other cases, hives and a rash will appear. The other thing to note is that scratching the bite can cause a secondary infection.

Fleas are a nuisance, and in most cases, they can indicate a household infestation that needs to be dealt with immediately. Though, flea bites don’t cause any serious symptoms. In the case of flea infestation, there are two primary complications. There are allergic reactions and secondary infections.

If you are bitten and later experience any of the below symptoms, then you should seek medical intervention immediately.

  • Nausea
  • Swelling of the lips and the face
  • Difficulty breathing

In this case, there may be any kind of infection on the bitten areas. If you are bitten or you have seen anybody bitten by fleas and has swollen glands, excessive redness or extreme pain on the affected area, then go to the doctor or advise them to seek medical attention.

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Do Flea Bites Transmit Diseases?

Yes! Flea Bites can transmit diseases. However, this instant is not very common. As I had already stated, most of the bites are not infected in any way. The question of whether flea bites cause diseases depends on the species of fleas. Some of the fleas carry diseases and it can be fatal dealing with them. Some of them include:

  • Chigoe Flea which can cause infections and in extreme cases amputation. Although they are not common carriers of diseases, in some extreme cases, they can carry diseases.
  • Human Flea – According to the Centers for Disease Control, this species doesn’t carry any diseases. However, they can serve as immediate hosts of two types of parasitic tapeworms.
  • Cat Flea – This is one of the most infectious flea species that you can ever find on earth. In case they bite, they will usually lead in plague and cat-scratch and typhus.

How to Prevent Flea Bites from Itching

Flea bites itch, swell and might also stick for several days. Even though people know that scratching the bite will only make it worse, you cannot help but give in. Most of people have to deal with flea bites at least once a year.

Although sometimes flea bites are inevitable, do you know any method of preventing them or even preventing them from itching? At this point in time, I am going to share some of the best methods of preventing flea bites from itching.

Perform the White Socks Test

The reality of the matter is that fleas will hop onto the nearest warm body they find. If there are no pets around, then you will automatically become their host. One thing that you should bear in mind is that it is not simple to deal with something that you don’t even know exists. For this reason, you should perform a white socks test to see if your house has a flea infestation.

To determine if they are in your house, you should put on some pair of white socks and walk around the house. If you have a pretty good infestation, then you will be able to see at least a few fleas on your socks. With a severe infestation, you’ll probably see quite a few. The good thing is that the socks will protect you from being bitten, the bad news is that you have fleas and there’s no better way of preventing flea bites from itching than preventing them from happening.

Bathe the Affected Area with Warm Water

If you haven’t yet succeeded in eliminating flea in your house, then at least you will succeed in preventing their bites from itching. One way to do this is to wash the affected area with warm water.

Apply Ice to the Bitten Area

This is another very effective remedy for flea bites. To reduce the pain and the irritation, you can apply ice to the affected area.

Use Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera is the skin queen. It prevents almost 80 percent of all skin problems. To relieve the itching, you should apply aloe Vera gel to the affected area at least some few minutes after the bite.
Calendula Ointment
This is the third and the most effective method of preventing itching on pets and human beings. Applying Marigold extracts, lavender oils and several other kinds of ointment can easily help relieve the condition.

Apply Apple Cider Vinegar

There are several studies that have proven the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar in relieving itchy skin in case of flea bites. One of the best methods is to apply dilute ACV as an after shampoo rinse. It can relieve itchy skin in both the animals and human beings.


Take an Antihistamine tablet or a syrup such as Benadryl. The other better way of solving this problem in case it’s intense itching is to take an antihistamine or take Benadryl.

Calamine Lotion

This is another scientifically proven home remedy for itchy flea bites. Take calamine lotion and apply on the affected area.

Witch Hazel

This herb is also a very effective home remedy. Simply place a few of the herbs in the freezer and once cooled apply them on the bites.

Flea Bites Vs Bedbugs bites

Although there are several differences and similarities between bed bug bites and flea bites, if you notice a group of several small dots on your skin, they could be either bedbugs or flea bites. However, there is little information concerning these two bites and hence most people don’t tell the difference.

In simple terms, the flea bites are usually found on the lower part of the body usually in warm, moist areas like the bends of elbows and knees. On the other hand, bedbug bites are found on the upper part of the body usually close to the neck, face, and arms.

They both cause small red marks on the skin and if close attention is not paid on these, you may fail to notice the difference.

How Long do Flea Bites Last?

Few minutes after the bites, a wheal (rise) is likely to occur. This is an area of elevated skin that sometimes is surrounded by reddening. The reactions are itchy and will usually start a few minutes after the bite and go away a few hours later – by 12 hours.

The other thing that comes after the wheal is the papule which replaces it 12-24 hours thereafter. In some cases, the lesions caused can persist for 2 weeks but in other cases, it can take a shorter time. Scratching can break the skin and release fluid that can cause crusting. This leads to secondary infection that can last for 4-6 weeks.

How to Treat Flea Bites

Together with the methods prescribed above for preventing flea bites from itching, there are several other things you can do to treat flea bites. Although flea bites will go away without any treatment, follow the below methods to hasten the healing time.

  • Rubbing alcohol can help reduce the instances of flea bites becoming a problem.
  • Use of tea tree oil can also relieve the itching and the pain.
  • Use anti-itch creams and antihistamine medications
  • The other thing is that you should completely avoid scratching the affected area.
  • Place cool teabags in the freezer and apply to the bite.
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Flea Bites Vs. Bed Bug Bites : Symptoms, Treatment, Pictures, Home Remedies

Last Updated On October 20, 2017 By surekha

Fleas are tiny black colored bugs which can cause painful bites. It is difficult to control them without the help of professional team. You are more prone to flea bites if you have pets at home than others. These tiny black or brownish insects about 1/12 inches long but can jump easily to any height and are capable of reproducing in no time. They mainly live on cats and dogs in your home and can easily bite you without your knowledge.

Flea bites can be itchy and painful and you may have signs of red spots on the affected skin, rashes, and swelling around the bite. Flea bites can cause distinctive reddish halo in the site. Apart from these problems fleas can easily transmit diseases like plaque and typhus. Often, your legs and ankles are vulnerable places of flea bites apart from wrist, armpits and groin.

If you observe your dogs/cats licking and scratching a lot, it could be due to flea bites. Mild flea bites can be managed with home remedies like Aloe Vera gel, ointments and ice packs but severe forms have to be treated medically if hives are formed in the skin. It is true that fleas are able to store volumes of blood measuring about 15 times of their weight.

When compared with fleas, bed bugs would not have wings and both are tiny oval shaped insects. Color of both bed bugs and fleas are of brownish black or reddish black. Bed bugs feed on humans and animals like that of fleas. The symptoms of flea bites and bed bug bites are similar. Bites of both these insects would produce swelling on the skin with tiny red spot on the affected site. It can also cause hives and blisters in severe cases. Like fleas, areas like arms, legs and face and other exposed parts of body, are highly vulnerable for bites of bed bugs.

Symptoms :

Both fleabites and bed bug bites have similar symptoms of itchy feeling and tiny red blisters on the skin.

Symptoms Of Flea Bites :

  1. Very itchy
  2. The skin becomes sore and painful
  3. Red spots with a halo is seen
  4. Rash or hives on the skin
  5. You cannot control scratching of skin if you are attacked by fleas
  6. Swelling of skin in the place of bite

Symptoms Of Bed Bugs Bite :

  1. Symptoms are mild and many times it gets unnoticed
  2. Bed bugs bite resemble mosquito bite in many cases
  3. Mild itchy feeling several days after getting bitten
  4. Tiny red lesions looking like welt or raised bump
  5. Scarring of skin after repeated bites
  6. Disturbed sleep since bed bug bites you only during night.
  7. Symptoms of bed bug bites may take many days to appear.

Flea bites can cause itching almost instantly and they appear in clusters. Bed bug bites are often found in rows and not in groups. Both can trigger allergic reaction in your body causing swelling and rashes.

Where Do They Live ?

  1. Fleas are commonly found in pets in your house. If there is no pet in your house, fleas grow on the yard where you have tall grasses and piled blocks of wood.
  2. Bed bugs are largely found in cots, pillows, mattress and the place where you sleep.

Read more on Insect Bites

Which Is More Harmful ?

Fleas are obviously more harmful than bed bugs, because it transmits disease by injecting bacteria and other micro-organisms during their bite. Bed bugs generally do not carry any parasites and they bite only to suck your blood.

Treatment :

  • OTC antihistamines are effective in controlling the symptoms of flea bites.
  • You can apply calamine lotion or Caladryl liberally on the area of flea bite. In case of severe itching, you can take diphenylhydramine like Benadryl for a day or two.
  • Bed bug bites often needs no treatment. It can cause itchy feeling on the skin which can be managed by antihistamines.

Home Remedies :

  • Apply ice packs to reduce swelling and control itching.
  • Use Aloe Vera gel on the affected area daily to reduce itchy feeling.
  • Alternatively, you can use Witch hazel or white vinegar on the affected skin.
  • Avoid scratching of skin since it may worsen the irritation.
  • Home remedies like application of ice packs are effective in getting relief from itching. Any antiseptic cream will do the job to control itchiness from bed bug bites.
  • Unless you are severely bitten by bed bugs no medical treatment is needed.
  • For persistent itching, you can consult your doctor to take strong antihistamines. Benadryl and similar drugs are useful in controlling itching and skin irritation.
  • In severe cases hydrocortisone cream is prescribed for bed bug bites. For some people, if the doctor suspects secondary infection, antibiotic ointments are given for topical application.

Ways To Prevent Flea Bites & Bed Bug Bites :

Firstly you need to check the health condition of your pets. Get it checked with a Vet who can give suitable medication to control fleas in them.

  • If your dog or cat is seriously scratching then it can be a sign of fleas.
  • You can seek help of professional pest control team if you have large number of fleas at home.
  • Fleas are known to cause plague, bartonellosis, Typhus and tapeworm diseases, and hence you should take enough care not to get fleas at home.
  • Bed bugs are known to hide in places like upholstery, furniture, box springs, bed frames, clutter and sofa. They are also found in unclean hospitals, hotels, shelters, military barracks and in apartments. They often hide in small places and even if you are shifting your house it bites you even in the new place.
  • You can identify bed bugs presence by checking for their droppings which are nothing but tiny black dots.


Better Health Information from Doctors.

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  • Major Difference Between Flea Bites and Bed Bug Bites

Major Difference Between Flea Bites and Bed Bug Bites

What are the major difference between flea bites and bed bug bites? What symptoms do they have? How are they treated respectively? Know all here!

Have you ever gotten out of bed wondering if that red, itchy spot on your leg was from a flea or bed bug? Although it can be difficult to distinguish flea bites and bed bug bites, there are some clues that will help you distinguish between the two. Before we dive into the flea bites vs. bed bug bites contrast, let’s first take a separate look at each bite.

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Flea Bites

Characteristics of Flea Bites

Fleas are parasites that obtain nourishment from the blood of their host. Flea bites can easily be confused with ant bites, spider bites, or skin allergies. However there are some clues these pests leave behind to help identify the origin of the bite. One simple way to differentiate between bites is to look at the bite itself. A bite with two puncture marks is most likely from an ant or spider; whereas, a bite with one puncture mark in the center of the bite is most likely from a flea.

There are several other symptoms associated with flea bites. Here are the most common symptoms:

  • A red, swollen area appears on the skin about thirty minutes after the initial bite.
  • The infected area turns red and begins to itch. The itch is irritating and constant.
  • Within two days of the bite, the wound can turn into a blister.
  • The constant itching can cause the area to bleed or become infected.
  • In rare cases, individuals will have an allergic reaction to the flea bite that can result in difficulty breathing, chest pain, and hives.

Treatments for Flea Bites

Most flea bites can be easily managed at home and this is one vital part in the flea bites vs. bed bug bites contrast. The most important part in managing flea bites is being able to resist the urge to scratch the bite. Just treat flea bites at home in the following ways:

  • As soon as you identify the bite, clean the area with soap and water and pat the area dry using a clean towel. This will help decrease the risk of infection.
  • Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to relieve the itching.
  • Place a cold compress over the affected area, several times a day to decrease the amount of swelling and inflammation.

Preventive Measures for Flea Bites

The key to preventing flea bites is to eliminate the source of the infestation. To do this, pet owners need to treat all pets with flea shampoo or flea spot on treatment liquids. Removing fleas from your home can be difficult because of the following reasons:

  • Fleas reproduce at an alarming rate.
  • Flea eggs can take up to two weeks to hatch.
  • Fleas can live up to three months.

To control fleas, treat all carpeted areas and pet bedding with flea insecticide sprays, foggers, or powders. Since flea eggs can live for weeks inside the home or pet bedding, a second treatment is often needed.

If you prefer to treat fleas naturally, begin by washing all clothing, bedding, and pet bedding in hot water. Then dry the materials in the dryer on high heat to help remove the pests and kill the eggs. Next sprinkle borax on the carpeted areas, mattresses, and outdoor areas. Allow the borax powder to sit for several hours and then remove with a vacuum. It is extremely important that you empty and remove the vacuum bag from your home to avoid reinfestation. Continue this treatment every week up to one month.

Bed Bug Bites

Characteristics of Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs are small, non-flying insects that obtain nourishment from the blood they remove from humans or animals. Although bed bugs can live in furniture and upholstery, they prefer to congregate in beds and bed frames where they feed at night. Bed bugs bites are commonly found on the hands, neck, face, and arms because these areas are more likely to be exposed during sleep. The bumps appear on the skin as flat, small, or raised areas that can become inflamed, itchy, red or blistered.

Treatments for Bed Bug Bites

When it comes to the flea bites vs. bed bug bites contrast, you should never miss this part. Often no treatment is required for bed bug bites. However, if the bites itch, you can treat them with topical steroid creams or oral antihistamines. A course of oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat an infection that develops at the bed bug site.

Preventive Measures for Bed Bug Bites

Most often an infestation of bed bugs will require a pest-control expert because bed bugs are highly adaptable pests that can live for up to a year without feeding.

You can try to spray or dust insecticides to remove bed bugs from your home but these products must be applied to all areas where bed bugs congregate including cracks in the furniture, holes in the walls, and other crevices found throughout the residence. Since it is virtually impossible to remove all bed bugs from a bed or mattress, you will need to discard all mattresses and bedding infected with bed bugs.

Pest-control experts can identify areas in your home where bed bugs hide or crawl. These experts can help prevent future bed bug infestations by filling in cracks in the tile, hardwood floors, and crown moldings and enclosing all mattresses with protective bags.

So the next time you wake up with a red, itchy bite on your leg, you can follow our flea bites vs. bed bug bites contrast to determine the causes of your condition. Here is a quick guide that you can refer to the next time you get bitten!

Table: Difference between Flea Bites and Bed Bug Bites

Symptoms of Flea Bites

Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites

Small bump surrounded by a red skin rash.

Look similar to mosquito bites. Reddened raised area.

Appear in groups of three or four.

More commonly found on the ankles, armpits, waist, bends of knees, and elbows but can be anywhere on the body.

Appear in a straight pattern in rows of three or more.

Typically located on the neck, face, arms, and hands but can be anywhere on the body.

The bites itch and appear inflamed.

The rash turns white when you press your fingers on it.


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