Flea Bites (Home Remedies and Treatments)

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Can You Get the Bubonic Plague from Your Dog?

Fleas will quickly set up shop on untreated pets, and the little buggers can transfer to you and your family. Fleas also can transmit serious diseases to people, for example, the bubonic plague. Symptoms of bubonic plague include:

  • Enlarged, painful, and tender lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Headache

Ask your vet about once-a-month flea medication, and put a monthly reminder on your calendar to avoid secondary infections from flea bites.

Facts and definition of flea bites

  • Fleas are a parasitic insect that feeds on the blood of mammals and birds.
  • The most common flea species in the U.S. is the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis.
  • "Sand fleas" are not insects, but are tiny crustaceans, with a bite similar to that of the cat flea.
  • Flea bites on humans look like small red spots that often occur in two to three groups or clusters with redness around them.
  • Symptoms of flea bites on humans include
    • red spots with a halo,
    • itching,
    • hives,
    • rash (characterized by small clusters of bumps), and
    • swelling around the bite.
  • Symptoms of allergic reactions to flea bites that are a medical emergency, and include difficulty breathing (shortness of breath or wheezing), swelling of the lips or tongue, dizziness, nausea, and chest pain.
  • Infection from flea bites can occur as a result of scratching the bites.
  • Fleas can transmit a number of diseases, including plague (Yersinia pestis), bartonellosis, typhus (Rickettsia typhi), tungiasis, and flea tapeworm.
  • One of the first signs of a flea infestation in the home is when pets start scratching, biting, or licking themselves excessively.
  • Fleas can also infest a home without pets.
  • Flea bites can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) anti-itch creams, lotions, or ointments. Wash the area first to keep infection from spreading and avoid scratching the bite.
  • Home remedies to soothe or relieve itching from flea bites include ice packs, Aloe Vera, witch hazel, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, tea tree oil, and used tea bags.
  • Prevent flea bites by keeping your pets and home free of fleas. Use flea preventive on your pets, and keep your home clean and vacuum pet areas regularly.
  • It may be necessary to consult a pest control specialist to get rid of fleas.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/22/2016

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