Fleas on your pets are bad news, but fleas on humans are even worse. It’s normal to hear that someone’s dog has fleas, but it’s pretty embarrassing to tell someone that you or your kid are a walking flea hotel. Even if people keep quiet about it, flea bites on humans are all too common because people live in such close proximity with their pets. Here’s what you need to know about human fleas in general, including how to get rid of fleas on humans:
Are there really human fleas?
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) does a good job explaining the human flea, including why cat fleas and other types pose more of a threat for biting:
‟Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are more common on cats, dogs and humans than dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) and human fleas (Pulex irritans). Each has its preferred hosts. The human flea prefers the blood of humans and pigs. Cat and dog fleas prefer cats and dogs, though children can become infested when pets sleep or rest on the same bed...Other flea species occasionally encountered by humans include the oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) and the northern rat flea (Nosopsyllus fasciatus). These fleas live on Norway rats and roof rats, and are capable of transmitting plague and murine typhus to humans.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) clears up any confusion about fleas and their biting effects, saying:
‟Humans are most commonly bitten by the cat flea, and, less commonly, the dog flea. The so-called human flea is, in spite of its name, less important. Fleas jump up from the ground and most frequently attack people on the ankles and legs, the easiest parts to reach, although sleeping people can be attacked anywhere on the body. Flea bites cause irritation and sometimes extreme discomfort. Heavy infestations may cause allergic reactions and dermatitis.”
The U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health (NLM/NIH) expands upon the topic of fleas on humans, saying:
‟Pet owners may not be bothered by fleas until after the pet is gone for a long period of time. Fleas look for other sources of food and begin to bite humans. Bites often occur around the waist, ankles, armpits, and in the bend of the elbows and knees.”
How to get rid of fleas on humans
Fleas should be attacked as quickly as possible, hitting both the source and premises. If a skin reaction to flea bites occurs, consult a physician. The NLM/NIH explains:
How to get rid of fleas in carpet
The goal of treatment is to get rid of the fleas. This can be done by treating your home, pets, and outside areas with chemicals (pesticides). Small children should not be in the home when pesticides are being used. Birds and fish must be protected when chemicals are sprayed. Home foggers and flea collars do not always work to get rid of fleas. If home treatments do not work, you may need to get professional pest control help.
For relieving flea bites on humans, they go on to recommend: ‟You can use an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone to relieve itching. Antihistamines you take by mouth may also help with itching.”
Two kinds of flea treatments
Of course, there’s a much simpler way to deal with any kind of flea problem. Terminix® knows how to get rid of fleas on humans and pets. Call today and send your fleas flying for the hills without having to worry about your family’s safety.
If you’ve discovered flea bites or have found fleas in your hair, consider the following advice, directly from the World Health Organization:
Simple hygienic measures. Fleas and their eggs, larvae and cocoons can be effectively removed by keeping houses well swept and floors washed. Removal with a vacuum cleaner is also effective. When people enter an infested house that has been vacant for some time, large numbers of newly emerged fleas may attack. The treatment of floors with detergents, insecticides or a solution of naphthalene in benzene is recommended; care should be taken to avoid inhaling benzene fumes.
Application of insecticides. Heavy infestations can be controlled by spraying or dusting insecticides into cracks and crevices, corners of rooms and areas where fleas and their larvae are likely to occur. Canisters that produce aerosols of quick-acting insecticides (e.g. the pyrethroids, propoxur and bendiocarb) kill fleas directly and are convenient to use. However, the insecticidal effect is brief and reinfestations may appear quickly.