Your cuddly pooch is a rover- in the yard one minute and in the house the next. The moment it sees you though, it’s all over you as if it hasn’t seen you for ages. It’s then that the trouble begins- you cuddle the dog and hug it and then the transfer takes place. Your pet, during its sojourn outdoors brings in filth, grime, dust and YES, fleas too, and some of these at least are riddled with curiosity and the tiny bloodsucking pests jump up on you. You may not notice it at first, but when they bite you and an allergic reaction is triggered, then you sit up and take notice.
The Human Flea
Of the 2,000 species of fleas present, there’s only one that’s common in humans (Pulex Irritans). Even these normally never reside in humans the way fleas do on dogs and other mammals. They’ll just sneak in and leave their signatures behind in the form of itchy-red welts or rashes. The human flea, which is about 0.5mm and 3mm in length can really get under your skin (no pun intended!) and reproduce. Canine and feline fleas are flat and wingless creatures, which have hind legs that help them jump from animal to man and from man to animal.
Are you in the habit of allowing your dog to share your couch or your bed? Are you walking your dog in the woods or the yard? Well, fleas can get you then- by applying pressure on their hind legs and they can jump onto you. The saving feature perhaps is that they don’t like your body to stay on for long, but they can do some damage before they exit- cause itchy red bites that are very irritating.
Fleas Can Cause Diseases
Don’t be complacent – you are as susceptible to diseases from fleas as your pet dog is. Humans are vulnerable to flea-borne diseases such as Mycoplasma haemofelis and Murine typhus. Never ignore a flea-infestation as it can ruin your health as well as your pets’.
The Nature of Fleas
Normally fleas abhor humans because they don’t have furry coats of hair on their bodies, where they can hide themselves. The one species of flea primarily chooses humans if none of their other warm, furry hosts are around. And, if you suffer from allergies, their bites can cause painful inflammation on the skin. Remember, the reproductive cycle of fleas is dependent on the fact that the female flea gets regular supply of blood. That’s why adult fleas choose dogs or cats as their host- that sounds quite vampireish, doesn’t it?
How To Prevent Fleas
If you don’t want to become fodder for fleas, keep them at bay- ensure you clean, vacuum and wash everything in the vicinity.
Keep your dog free of fleas by resorting to treatments, collars, sprays, powders, dips- also brush and comb its hair as often as you can.
Ensure your yard is free of fleas and larvae by spraying regularly.
Clean carpets and upholstery, cushions and bedding, vacuum floors and corners, de-flea your pet and hopefully you’ll be flea-free for some time at least. Minimize the chances of being flea-bitten by tackling the problem and getting the fleas under control.
How To Treat Fleas
Strictly speaking, they don’t need to be treated- at least in humans- they go away after some time. However, in case you have been bitten by fleas, take a hot shower, and disinfect your clothes and you are mostly in the clear. If there are red bite marks, wash the area with antiseptic soap to prevent further infection.
Use some flea shampoo on your hair- even dish soap is good enough. If you use flea shampoo on yourself please make sure it's for human use and not pet use. Just leave it on for a while, use a flea comb on it and then wash it out well with hot water. A mixture of baking soda, salt and water applied to a flea-bitten area and left on the hair for about 10 minutes does wonders. Use a flea comb regularly for a week or so and you should be flea-free. Anti-flea sprays are also a useful option to consider. After a bath, itchy skin can be treated by applying anti-itch creams such as aloe or calamine lotions.
In conclusion, there’s a lot of wisdom in the saying that “Prevention is better than cure”- so prevent fleas from taking hold in the first place!