Ask a Dermatologist: Fleas

Ask a Dermatologist: Fleas

Ask a Dermatologist: Fleas

Fleas. We all know they’re out there, but we think of them as a problem for the dogs and cats–not so much as a problem for us. However, there’s more to a flea infestation than discomfort for Fido. Fleas can cause serious health problems for humans, too, so it’s important to know what you’re up against.

Flea Facts

Fleas are infamous little blood-sucking parasites that prey on mammals and birds, and with over 2,500 flea species in the United States alone, these little creatures are a big problem. The flea you’re most likely to face is the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, although it doesn’t have the decency to infect only cats; in fact, these winged, oval-shaped, six-legged monstrosities don’t just bite pets and humans alike–they also spread dangerous diseases. Flea bites appear as clusters of small red dots, with or without a pale halo, and they are most common below the knee. For pets, flea bites manifest themselves through excessive scratching, which can be the first sign of an infestation.


Do you still have flea questions? Let our dermatologists answer FAQ’s about fleas!

  • Symptoms. Flea bites can be overlooked at first, but you’re not likely to miss them once they start itching. Symptoms include rash, swelling, hives, and, in severe cases, even difficulty breathing, chest pain, and more. It’s possible to be allergic to flea bites–so if you notice any unusual symptoms and a few red bumps, it might be time to head to the dermatologist.
  • Pets. Pets complicate matters when it comes to flea infestations. Although Fluffy and Fido have been known to bring fleas into a house, infestations can occur even in a home without pets. For homes with pets, it’s important to give all of the animals preventative medication, and always remember to keep pet areas clean and vacuumed to prevent infestation.
  • Complications. Sometimes, a flea bite isn’t just a flea bite. Aside from severe allergic reactions, flea bites can cause infections when scratched excessively and, even worse, they can spread serious diseases, including plague, typhus, and more. Fleas may be small, but they’re not to be taken lightly.

Interested in more information on flea bites? Looking for expert dermatologists? Contact us today!

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