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Fleas

Fleas leave very itchy bites which are much smaller than mosquito bites. They can be dangerous for the health of a pet, but are very unlikely to cause complications for humans.

  1. Parasitic insects
  2. Cause itchy bites
  3. Require pesticide for an infestation

Getting pest treatment for your pet can help to eliminate fleas from your home. However, if you have bite marks which you think could be from fleas but are not sure, or if you need any further advice about reducing swelling or discomfort, our online doctor service can help you.

Fleas
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Description

Fleas are among the most common external parasites. They are found in the fur of pets and in gardens and feed off of the blood of mammals. A flea’s life cycle can vary between a couple of weeks and a few months, depending on how suitable the conditions are for them to survive.

To prevent the presence of fleas in your home, there is no specific way if you do not have a pet. However, if you do have a cat or dog for example, you can get various topical treatments that can be applied once a month to stop them getting fleas.

Fleas lay eggs in the burrows of fur, and can be laid everyday by a female. A flea’s body is flat, and an adult is around 5 mm long. Getting flea treatment for your pet from a veterinarian is the best way to eliminate the presence of fleas. 

Eggs can also sometimes fall off a pet's fur and on to surfaces around the home, such as carpets and rugs. In such cases, you might be able to combat the problem by hoovering any areas that may be affected. If, after this, you still encounter fleas around the home, a pest control company will be able to help you get rid of any fleas which might still be present.  

Flea bites do not normally cause anything more than irritation and discomfort to humans. But they can sometimes be confused with other types of bites, so if you aren’t sure, or if you have flea bites but don’t have a pet, a doctor will be able to help you determine what the bites are. 

If bites are particularly uncomfortable or painful, then a mild painkiller such as paracetamol, or a soothing or emollient cream can help to reduce symptoms. However, they should completely heal within a couple of weeks.

Different types of bites can sometimes look similar. If you have some bites on your body and are concerned about where they might have come from, our private video consultation service can put you in touch with a GMC registered doctor.

Page last reviewed:  19/02/2020
Diagnosis and treatment

How are flea bites diagnosed?

Flea bites are distinctive in their shape. They appear as small red bumps, and have a red circle around the centre. If you have flea bites on your body they will often be around the legs or ankles and in small groups.

Will I need tests?

It is extremely unlikely that you will require tests for flea bites, however it is important to make sure you can distinguish them from a tick bite, which can be much more problematic. It is possible to get Lyme disease from a tick bite, especially the deer tick. If you aren’t sure, a doctor or nurse will be able to help you tell the difference.

What will a doctor normally advise?

In most cases, a doctor will simply advise not to scratch the affected area as the bites will clear up on their own.

A vet will be able to help you get the treatment you need for your pet.

What treatments are there for flea bites?

In most cases treatment will not be necessary, however should sensitive skin react with the bites, antihistamines can be used to reduce the itchiness.

Page last reviewed:  19/02/2020
Questions and Answers

How are flea bites treated?

Pets will need to be treated for fleas by a vet. 

In humans, flea bites do not usually require treatment and will simply clear up by themselves within around a week of first appearing. 

What treatments are there?

Should treatment be required, antihistamines or home remedies can help alleviate the itching and soreness that can develop around the bites.

Are there side effects?

Some antihistamines can lead to minor common side effects that many medications will induce such as dizziness, nausea or dry mouth.

Can I consult a doctor about flea bites online?

Yes. Our online video consultation service enables you to speak to a doctor, who can give you advice should you be worried about small, itchy bites. Choose a time that suits you and you’ll be seen face-to-face by a GMC registered doctor.

Page last reviewed:  19/02/2020

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