Flea bites are annoying and sometimes painful for a human to endure. Fleas are commonly found on domesticated animals, such as dogs and cats. These pests may also be found in homes with pets, spreading illnesses from one animal to another and from the furry friend to their owner. With that said, can a person suffer allergic reactions to flea bites? The answer is yes, there are cases where humans have become allergic to flea bites. Allergic reactions to fleas bites in humans occur more often than you may think, but it’s not just the people who get bitten by fleas who can have a reaction. People with pets can develop an allergic reaction as well if they are allergic to their pet’s dander. Fleas themselves do not bite humans. They will bite dogs and cats, and most people are not allergic to cat or dog dander. The reaction is caused by something else all together which I will explain later in the article. Allergic reactions to fleas bites on humans are rare. It would be recommended to consult your healthcare provider before using any flea treatment so you avoid serious allergic reactions. This is because different people react differently to sprays and other topical treatments, and your doctor will be able to advise you of potential risks while prescribing the correct treatment.
Allergic Reactions To Fleas Bites On Humans
What’s an allergic reaction?
You may be wondering, “what exactly is an allergic reaction?” An allergic reaction is an abnormal response to a normally harmless substance. This happens when the immune system takes action against that substance as if it were a threat (even though it’s not). Some people have severe allergies, while others have mild ones. An allergy can also occur suddenly and without warning.
Fleas are tiny parasites that take a sip of your pet’s blood.
They’re about 2.5 millimeters long, so you might not notice them until you see the large welt they’ve left on your pet’s skin (or yours). They have flat bodies and specialized legs for jumping, which helps them move quickly through fur.
Symptoms and signs of flea allergies
You might notice your pet’s skin becoming red, inflamed, and itchy. In particular, the area around their neck, back and tail may have bald spots due to the dog scratching themselves excessively. Other signs include rashes, crusting and hair loss.
It is also possible that your pet will start to display some unusual behaviours such as incessantly licking their skin or chewing on it in order to relieve the itching sensation.
How to diagnose flea allergies
To diagnose flea allergy dermatitis, the veterinarian will start by asking you some questions about your cat. How long have you had your cat? Does he go outside? Where do you live? Does he come into contact with other animals?
If the veterinarian thinks that your cat has flea allergy dermatitis, she will probably suggest removing all fleas from him and treating his skin condition to see if it makes a difference (if you can’t remove all of your cat’s fleas, spend at least 30 days attempting to do so). If the treatment works and he stops itching, she will know that FAD was causing his itchiness.
If treatment for FAD doesn’t work, there are ways to figure out what else could be causing his itchiness:
The vet may want to put him on a hypoallergenic diet (it is important that he doesn’t get any treats or food not provided by the diet plan) for 8-12 weeks. If this diet helps stop his itchiness, then allergies are likely causing it. And in that case, she may suggest an allergy test (more information on these here).
The vet may also want to do blood tests and skin scrapings.
You’ll need to take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms of allergic reactions. It’s important to note that your veterinarian will be looking for flea bites and fleas in the pet’s fur, and that it is best to bring your pet in as soon as possible after the allergic reaction has occurred.
The diagnosis of flea allergy dermatitis is made by history (finding bites on skin or noticing more scratching) and physical examination findings.
A veterinarian may recommend a fungal culture, biopsy, or skin cytology, but these tests are not necessary for making a definitive diagnosis.
The different stages of flea allergy dermatitis (FAD)
- Stage One
At stage one, your pet has developed an allergic reaction to a bite from the flea. At this stage you will not notice any signs or symptoms of an illness but it is possible that you may notice that your pet is scratching more than usual.
- Stage Two
At stage two you will start to notice more severe symptoms of FAD. Your pet will start to lose hair from its body and develop open sores as well as suffer from recurring skin infections due to excessive licking, biting and scratching.
- Stage Three
In some animals the reactions can continue for years. Fleas become immune to their host’s immune response and continue biting them, which makes them increasingly sensitive to flea saliva. By now your pet is constantly itching and suffering with open sores which are becoming infected by bacteria; they will also have lost a lot of their fur in patches on their body due to constant itching, licking, biting and scratching. You may even see scabs on your pet’s face or neck where they have been unsuccessfully trying to relieve their itch by rubbing against objects or other animals/humans.
Treatment options for flea allergies
The best course of action for treating flea allergies is to minimize exposure to the fleas and their bites. This can be done in several ways:
- Direct treatment of your pet is especially important. In most cases, a monthly topical product that kills fleas will be sufficient, along with regular bathing and grooming, anti-itch medication, and antibiotics if needed.
- Indirect treatment of your home environment is also essential. This can often involve an exterminator or flea products specifically designed for the indoor environment. It might also include special cleaning products used regularly to keep down the population or UV light traps that attract the fleas and kill them before they bite you or your pet again.
- Immunotherapy is a long-term method that requires allergy testing followed by regular injections over a period of time to allow your body to get used to the allergen in small doses so that you become less sensitive over time.
- For more severe reactions, oral steroids may be needed temporarily along with antihistamines until your body reacts less strongly to each bite (usually after about 4 weeks). If it doesn’t clear up after 4 weeks, you should visit a doctor for further diagnosis and testing.
Fleas and their bites can cause allergic reactions that lead to a skin condition called flea allergy dermatitis. Be sure to check with your veterinarian if you notice any of the signs or symptoms listed above in your pet.
Fleas can bite humans, but they do most of their feeding on pets. Fleas are not known to transmit disease to humans. However, flea bites can cause a skin irritation called flea allergy dermatitis in some people and animals.
When a person has been bitten by a flea, the skin may become irritated as a result of an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva or mouthparts left behind after feeding. The result is often a large area of redness and intense itching that develops into raised bumps or hives. A secondary infection from scratching can also occur. The face, neck and back of the arms are common sites for these reactions because they’re exposed when you’re wearing shorts or sandals in warm weather, when fleas are more active outdoors.
If you suspect your pet has fleas, check for signs of larvae near sleeping areas such as beds and sofas where eggs may have fallen off your pet unnoticed. Vacuum carpets and furniture every few days for several weeks to remove any remaining eggs that were laid before your pet was treated with adulticides (flea-control products). Wash pet bedding regularly in hot water to kill any eggs or larvae that might be living there.
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