Dog fleas; Siphonaptera
Fleas are blood-sucking insects that feed on humans, dog, cats, and other animals. Fleas do not have wings.
Fleas prefer to live on dogs and cats, but may also be found on humans and other available animals.
Pet owners may not be bothered by fleas until their pet is gone for a long period of time, and the fleas must find another place to go. This is when they begin to bite humans. Bites often occur around the waist, ankles, armpits, and in the bend of the elbows and knees.
Note: Symptoms often begin suddenly (within hours).
No testing is necessary.
The goal of treatment is to get rid of the fleas by treating the home, pets, and outside areas with insecticide. Small children should not be in the home when insecticides are being used. Birds and fish must be protected during spraying. Home foggers and flea collars do not always work. If home treatments do not work, professional extermination may be needed.
If flea bites occur, an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream can help relieve itching.
Getting rid of fleas can be difficult and takes persistence.
Scratching can lead to a skin infection.
Prevention may not be possible in all cases. Use of insecticides may be helpful if fleas are common in your area. Professional extermination may be necessary in some cases.
Habif TM. Infestations and bites. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Mosby Elsevier;2009:chap 15.
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