Flea bites: how to recognize and relieve them?

Chips: parquet, grass, dog, cat, sand or bed… What’s the difference?

If there is near 2500 species of fleas in the world, only a few concern us directly and are likely to infest our animals and our interiors. This is mainly the case with chips cat or dogCtenocephalides felis Where canis- and to a lesser extent man fleas, say Pulex irritans, rarer in Europe.
They are therefore most often our faithful furry companions which are to blame for flea infestation.
These tiny brown to black insects move by jumping from one host to another – up to 50cm distance – and reproduce very quickly, with no less than 50 eggs laid each day : hence their ability to quickly infest an animal or even a house.

And what about floor chips? Also called parquet or wood fleas, they are actually young cat fleas, which slip between the gaps in the parquet slats while waiting to jump on their prey.

Grass fleas, on the other hand, are usually dog ​​fleas, which like cool, shady places.

Finally, the “fleas” of sand and the “fleas” of bed, are thus named wrongly, since they are not in reality not fleas. The first are small amphiphobic crustaceans that live by the sea, and the second are drawing pinswhich are much flatter than bullets and do not jump.

First of all, it should be clarified that fleas do not bite but bite with their mouthparts, so it is more correct to speak of a flea bite. Flea saliva is the cause of severe itching.

Hervé Dega, dermatologist: Flea bites cause small, round, red lesions, with a central point surmounted by a micro-crust at the level of the bite area. They are often grouped in clusters.

But it can be good hard to tell the difference between the stings or bites of several insects. “This is the context which generally allowsidentify the nature of the bite : the areas of the body affected, the presence of pets, the times of day when they occur, etc.” specifies the dermatologist.
For example, we can differentiate flea bites – which often attack in the middle of the day – generally located on the lower legs, from bedbug bites – which only bite at night – and which can affect the upper limbs and the trunk.

Flea bite: how long does it last?

Flea bites are more or less persistent depending on the person, their skin type, their ability not to scratch and especially any allergic conditions. If in some people, they go almost unnoticed and disappear in a few hours, for others, they will cause a major rash that can go as far as a bacterial infection.
“As with all scratch lesions, if the patient scratches a lot with hands that are not always clean, they can be the seat of a secondary infection – generally staphylococcus or streptococcus – which can then last up to two weeks” explains the specialist.
Hence the importance of limit scratching as much as possible and to apply an antiseptic lotion if the lesion is raw.

Although they feed on the blood of animals and humans, flea eggs and larvae are able to survive two months without eating and adult fleas up to 7 days. This therefore leaves them time to nestle between the slats of a parquet floor, in the carpet, the bedding, the sofa or even in all the corners of the house.
When fleas have taken over a house, they can leave blood stains on clothing and household linen, as well as traces of black droppings, which look like small black dandruff.

Why do fleas only bite me?

We are not all equal in the face of insect bites, whether they are mosquitoes, fleas or bedbugs. It is therefore common, under the same roof, for one person to be devoured, while the other shows almost no trace of a bite.
Many hypotheses have been put forward on the subject: the fineness of the skin, its smell, the presence of certain bacteria on the skin, that of CO2 in the air that we exhale, the degree of alcohol level or the blood group. But none of them has been really corroborated by serious studies. “We therefore do not know today with certainty why some people attract bites and others less” concludes the dermatologist.

Can fleas transmit diseases?

If fleas can be vectors of a number of parasites or bacteria for our pets, few are those that are transmitted to humans, also called zoonosis. “Fleas can transmit the plague after biting an infected rat, but it’s a disease that hardly exists anymore in Europe” reassures the dermatologist. Rat fleas can also transmit murine typhus, a mild bacterial infection in most cases, to humans.

How to treat and relieve flea bites on the body?

In the absence of significant reactions, the flea bite does not require special treatment.

Dr Hervé Dega: If the itching is severe with the appearance of a rash, the treatment will be symptomatic, with antihistamines and possibly a cortisone-based cream.

Some of the more natural remedies for relieving flea bite pimples include:

– The application of a warm alcoholic compress (alcohol modified at 70°),
– The application of a block of ice surrounded by a cloth,
– Gel aloe vera to relieve pain and swelling,
– White vinegar diluted in a little water, applied to the bites…

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