Flea Bites on Humans: Symptoms and Treatment

Flea Bites on Humans

Some people can live in a house with a full blown flea infestation and seemingly be immune to flea bites.  Others, it sometimes seems, only have to look at an animal to get covered in itchy, unsightly bites.  If you belong to the latter group, you know the misery and embarrassment of flea bites.  There is nothing worse than going out, particularly to an important occasion, and trying to cover up flea bites.  You need to get rid of your flea bites fast! 

This post is about:

  • The symptoms of flea bites on humans
  • The best treatment for flea bites on humans
Find out more about people and fleas:  Can fleas live on humans?

Symptoms of flea bites on humans

Plenty of insects can bite you, leave a mark and make you itchy.  It’s actually not the bite that makes you itch, it’s the insect’s saliva.  If you are bitten by an insect once, you may become sensitive to that species’ saliva.  Should another insect of the same species bite you again, an allergic reaction occurs.  For most of us, that is an itchy bump or rash; for extremely sensitive people a very painful and itchy reaction may be caused.

Photograph of flea bites on a human leg

Flea bites can generally be distinguished from other insects.  Here are some symptoms:

  • Bites are usually below the knees, particularly at ankle level, or on the forearms.
  • Bites often in clusters or lines.
  • Bites are extremely itchy in those who are sensitive.
  • There is a raised lump with a red area around it.

Treatment for flea bites on humans

If you have an allergic reaction to flea bites you will want to treat them fast.  Not only is the itching unbearable, but repeated scratching, causing broken skin, may lead to infections which require medical attention.

Here’s what to do for flea bites on humans:

Stop Infections Spreading from Flea Bites:

  • Wash the area using cold water and an antiseptic soap.
  • Alternatively, clean the area with antiseptic spray.

Stop the Itching of Flea Bites:

  • Apply an antihistamine or hydrocortisone lotion to help stop the itching.
  • Apply ice cubes or ice packs (placed in a plastic bag with a cloth around) to the area:  the cold will reduce the itch.
  • In severe cases you may need to take an oral antihistamine.

Speed up Recovery from Flea Bites:

  • Up your Vitamin C intake – Vitamin C naturally promotes healing.
  • Dab tea tree oil on the bites – it’s a natural antiseptic and helps healing.
Find out more about getting rid of flea bite marks after the itching has stopped.

Prevention is Better than Treatment for Flea Bites!

Suffering from flea bites is a pretty clear indication that your pet has a fleas.  Remember, if you are itchy, your pet is likely to be feeling even worse.  Do both of you a favour and act to get rid of the fleas.

To prevent a re-occurrence of the problem you should immediately treat your pet to get rid of the fleas;  this is a two-pronged process, involving getting rid of fleas on your pet and in your home.  Treating just your pet, or just your home, isn’t enough. Both need to be tackled together, otherwise you will be treating your flea bites for a very long time.

Summary:

  • Itchy bites below your knees are quite likely to be flea bites.
  • Keep the area clean and use antihistamines to stop the itching.
  • Get rid of the fleas on your pet and around your home.

 

 

 

 

54 thoughts on “Flea Bites on Humans: Symptoms and Treatment

    • Hi comment person – yes, put the ice cubes in a bag – never put them directly on to your skin or you risk frostbite. Don’t leave them on the skin too long, even in the bag. Personally, I would put a thin cloth between the skin and the ice.

  1. i had lots of flea bites and i have a lot of dark purples one and i am so embarrest!!!!!!

    can you add “how to get rid of dark purple flea bites in a easy way that people could have in their houses”?

    • Hi comment person – I am guessing that if the bites have gone dark purple they have started the healing process – are they still itchy? If they have started to heal, you can speed up the process by following the steps here – massage cream in, eat healthily, take a vitamin C supplement. I know it’s embarrassing – hope it clears up quickly. I will look into adding a post for this type of flea bite for you.

    • Antihistamines are medicines (tablets, drops or creams) that stop the symptoms of allergies. They can also stop severe itching and break the cycle of itch/scratch/itch. Claritin and Zyrtec are examples of two brands.

  2. How long do I leave the ice packs or cubes on the flea bites? Also, I have juvenile diabetes so it takes long for my wounds to heal, and they bite my ankles the worst,which worries me because with diabetes, if you get an infection on your feet or ankles they have to be amputated.. so is there anything I can do to keep the fleas from biting my legs? Please reply.

    • Hi Hannah – you mention that you have juvenile diabetes and as I am not a medical practitioner I am not qualified to comment; please contact your doctor for advice. Sorry, not being difficult, just don’t want to say something that might jeopardise your health.

      Kind regards

    • If you do have an infection in any part of your limbs get medical treatment and more than likely the doc should get it healed up if you act quickly. Make sure you seek help if you see anything abnormal. It is in very dire circumstance that you have to be amputated if you are safe in all you do and be very careful in all you do. I have type 2 diabetes and so far so good.

  3. Hi, I work in a house where they have dogs and cats. I work in a room on my own and I keep being bitten all over my neck like bites mentioned in other comments on this site. How can I prevent the flea’s biting my neck as they are very sore and also do you know once I’ve left where I work am I bringing the fees home to my own home? If you would be a will to reply to me please I will be very grateful. Many thanks.

    • Hi Rob – are you sure it’s fleas that are biting you? It’s unusual for them to target your neck (too high), unless you are working on the floor (eg laying carpet). Could it be mosquitoes or something else?

      Assuming that your bites are flea bites, it’s hard to know what to do to repel them, as it’s not your house – clearly the answer would be to treat the room. Some people wear flea collars around their legs (over socks or boots) to repel fleas, but I am not going to suggest that you put a collar around your neck (way too weird!) So, may be try an essential oil (make sure you mix it with a carrier oil). Eucalyptus, citronella and lavender are all supposed to have flea repelling qualities; I’d choose eucalyptus.

      Will you take the fleas home? It’s unlikely, but not utterly impossible. Fleas don’t stick around on humans, they bite and then jump off. If you are worried about it, wash your work clothes at a high temperature as soon as you get home.

      Hope that helps!

      • I used to work in a home with cats with fleas they bite everywhere on my body in my hair under my clothes they stay in my clothes they get in my car seat I take them home I have to treat everywhere . I went to doc many time

  4. i have lots of flea bites on my ankle and its getting more and more, can i take antihistamine tablets? can those lessen the itch? and shorten the healing time?

    • Hi Anne – oral antihistamines can be taken to reduce the itchiness of flea bites. Follow the instructions on the packet – check that they are suitable for you. If in doubt, check with the pharmacist. They can affect the time for recovery in that if you don’t scratch the skin will have the chance to heal – there’s nothing in them that will aid recovery though.

      Make sure you treat the cause of the flea bites too.

      Hope that helps.

  5. Do fleas attact the back and buttock?do they also travel under your clothes?my so. Was bitten just goin in the yard to play with his dog. How do I treat him for bits on the buttocks and back?

    • Hi Manda – fleas can bite anywhere on the body, although generally you will find them biting on the ankles and lower legs because that’s about as high as they can jump. If your son was lying down playing with the dog, then yes, he could get bitten on his back or buttocks. A flea could get trapped between your skin and clothes.

      You would treat those bites the same way you would treat any other flea bite on the body. Also, make sure that you treat your dog for fleas.

      Thanks for commenting.

  6. me and the gf are currently suffering from bites i believe to be flea, the house supposedly got cleaned out and they stoped biting everyone else except me and the gf i have bites all over my body she does too i havent seen any fleas ….but thats all i can think of them being, the gf mother suggested scabies but i dont think so , but now the gf’s hands have started getting covered in pus filled sores that are extremely itchy i have bited on my fingers but not as bad

    • Hi ice – ask a pharmacist to look at your hands to rule out scabies. Have you looked at the posts about bed bugs? See if the pattern of bites matches – this could explain why only you and your gf have bites (if they are only in that one bed). But first stop should be the pharmacist – especially as it seems that the bites are becoming infected.

      Best of luck

  7. i’m anemic and i got flea bites all over my feet and it’s red w/ white bumps. is this an allergy and will the same stuff work on me?

    • Hi Crimson Scarlet – I really couldn’t say if you have an allergy – show your pharmacist or doctor – they will be able to give you proper advice.

  8. I don’t have pets, but am finding fleas in my home just in the past week. I have red swollen bumps all over my legs, hips, and back. What is the best treatment for ridding a house of fleas? Will a typical spray ant & roach killer do the job?

  9. Hi. Recently I started being attacked by fleas or what I think they are. I have them everywhere! Upper thighs and back are the worst spots. They itch like crazy!
    I’ve done everything possible to get them to stop. I was wondering how long does it take for the bites to heal? Is there anything else I could do to prevent being bitten or to stop the itching? I’ve tried it all . I’m to the point of getting rid of my dogs. I’ve had them for months but am now getting bit. Thank you!!

    • Hi Heather – have you checked the dogs for fleas? Are you treating them for fleas? If you are getting bitten (and upper thighs and back aren’t the most usual places) it won’t stop until you get rid of the fleas (assuming that it is fleas). Perhaps before you get rid of the dogs you could check to find out if they actually have fleas and, if they do, treat them. Unfortunately, dealing with fleas is a part of pet ownership.

      How long do flea bites last? It depends on your body (how quickly it heals, skin type etc), whether you scratch them and what you do to treat them. A week and they may be gone. Of course, if you don’t find the source of the problem you’ll just get more.

      Good luck – and please don’t get rid of your dogs, try treating the problem.

  10. I have 3 or 4 bites just near my mouth and a couple on my neck. Fleas didn’t occur to me and I went to the doctor who suggested they could be ingrowing hairs as they are near or on the shaving line. Fleas wern’t mentioned. Anyway she ‘s given me a course of antibiotics. But – could they be flea bites – just 5 of them? Or too high up the body? I do have a cat that sometimes sits on my stomach – but rarely. Also – they don’t itch terribly – maybe tickle a bit and I feel no need to scratch them. Any help appreciated . Thanks

    • Hi buckloader – flea bites wouldn’t have been my first thought with bites/spots around the face (particularly as they don’t itch) and if your doctor hasn’t suggested it, I would go with what he/she thought. If this keeps happening (and only IF), check out the bedbug bite post. If you get bites (as opposed to spots) around the face/neck etc every now and then, it could be bed bugs. But really, your doctor has seen you and has the best idea.

  11. I just came back from the doctor but i forgot to ask, do they leave scars or marks when they leave? I have unfortunately scratched them quite alot.

  12. I have flea bites everywhere, my arm is covered in clusters and they ich so bad.. I need information on how to get them to go away?

    • Hi COMMent – there’s not much more to add to the information in the post. If you still can’t find relief, visit your pharmacist or doctor.

  13. I have been getting bit for the last week – I have itched so bad that I made scabs. The dermotologist checked me for scabies (a culture scratch test under a microscope) – came out negative. Brought my dog in to see if he had fleas at the vet – they couldn’t find any on him – I started noticing the dogs itching (I have three dogs) – no carpets in the house – thank God. Treated them with a flea formula put on their backs. Have given them flea bathes – have vacuumed the mattress on all sides – bought a bedbug/flea mattress pad and have sprayed each and every room. Seems to be somewhat better in a couple of days. Each time I put on clothes for work – I throw them in the dryer for about five minutes to make sure nothing is on them. The itching has been terrible for me. The dermotologist gave me medicine for the itch and cream. Seems somewhat better. Threw out all my old pillows and got rid of my mattress in the one bedroom. I turned and moved all the furniture but I wonder if I should gut the closets?? I can spray the floors I would guess. I can handle having them here and there – but the itching is making me go crazy!!!! All this because my neighbor put her flea infested dog to play with mine – ugh!

    • Hi Jabrat – sorry to hear of your problem. Bear in mind that if you do have fleas in the house, hoovering etc just the once won’t get rid of the problem – you need to do it daily for months.

      Glad you checked out your skin problem with a professional.

      Kind regards

  14. Meant to say vacuum my heart out and even bought the flea dust for the vacuum cleaner – you suck it up and it kills the fleas in the bag.

  15. This site is really informative, it’s good to see a clear source of info and advice. I had years of issues with fleas from pet cats, and I was always the only one to have been bitten in the family, and when I finally rid of them (after vigorous treatments, moving house and the cats sadly passing on) you can imagine my relief. However the last week or so I woke up and I had scratched myself in my sleep, and my dad suggested there could be bed bugs irritating me. Later that night I came up in bites all over me including my ankles, feet, arms, face and neck and again I would’ve easily assumed bed bugs. I felt something tickle my arm and I saw a black bug on my arm and assuming it was a bed bug I went to grab it, only for it to jump and turn out to be a flea! I’m still mystified as to how I’ve got them in my house at all – but basically not realising at first the bites on my face weren’t just teen spots I broke the skin, so my question is would it be wise would you think to go to the doctors and check about infection? It was a long winded post but I needed to explain the story leading to the question, I wouldnt have known it was fleas until seeing the little bugger.

    • Hi Kate – bed bugs don’t jump, so whatever was on your arm it was probably not a bed bug. If you feel that the bite is getting infected then, yes, a visit to the doctor couldn’t hurt.

      Hope it all clears up.

  16. I have a question we don’t have animals but out neighbor does he has 5-6 cats. Is it possible this is where we are getting the flea bites from. And what should I do? He doesn’t take care of them and is a terrible hoarder and his house even stinks like urine and fecus from the outside!!! HEEEEELP!!

    • I can’t see that fleas would reach your house from his house unless being carried in to you by his cats. Don’t know where you are in the world, but in the UK I would contact my Environmental Health Officer at the local council to report the problem. Best of luck.

  17. Hi.. I’m only 11 and I have flea bites all over me and it is really imbarrasing because im a cheerleader and I play basketball and I would like to know since I don’t really have money if ice would just work ?

    • Hi Sophie – so sorry to hear that you are being bitten. You really need to speak to your parents as if these are flea bites (and I don’t know that they are) they will need to get rid of the problem in the house. Please speak to them and have them check out your bites.

  18. I have bites on my arm and a couple in between my fingers. My bits start off as just raised bumps but turn into very itchy red spots about the size of a dime over the course of a few hours. There is no real pattern to them. My ex fiancee had fleas and bedbugs was found in his couch and no where else in the home. He had it professionally treated but every time I stayed there I would get bit at night if my arm hanged over the bed as well as my neck sometimes. I also done my laundry there as I have no washer and dryer and then I would come home and put laundry away. Sometimes he would come stay and bring an over night bag. My neighbor is an exterminator and has treated my apartment twice. I have never seen a bed bug or a flea but I keep getting bit. My neighbor the exterminator has not seen anything at all either. He has searched everything. The last time I got bit I just earlier that day done laundry at my ex’s house and come home. I went to sleep in the clothes I was wearing while there. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning stripping because what ever was in the hoodie I was wearing was eatting me alive. In all I ended up with 5 bites on my arm and two on my hand, in between my fingers. My neighbor brought me two professional bombs to set off and I went to lowes and bought the hot shot bed bug and flea foggers Im setting them off this weekend. Im at a loss since I cant see what is biting me. Any advice???????

  19. The only time I get bit by a flea is when im in bed…That being said they are only attacking my legs, sometimes a few others on different parts of my body. I dont want to jinx myself but wgy are they mainly biting me there.? I dont have much money to get flea treatments. I have heard that cleaners can repel them. is that true? Could Eucalyptus be bought in a spray?

  20. I sleep on the couch in my living room a lot.
    I itch all the time. Mainly on my legs, arms, back, chest, waist (sides), and more recently on my neck (beneath my chin).
    Nobody else in my house is having this problem.

    Without going to the hospital to get diagnosed… how do I know if I’m getting attacked/having an allergic reaction to fleas/flea bites and not something else? I’ve looked up symptoms for scabies/mange and the symptoms don’t seem to add up. Again, I’m the only person in my house having this problem. The itching comes and goes. Whenever I leave the house it stops within 10-15 minutes. If I’m itching to bad and can’t sleep… I go for a ride with my windows down in my car and it goes away.

    Help would be amazing as I have tried calamine lotion and just started trying cortizone cream… and neither last very long.

    Thanks.

  21. At the campground I am at they must have fleas, from my knees down are covered in bites. What advice is out there to stop them from biting? I use sprays and they don’t seem to work!

    • Sadly, some people are particularly prone to attracting insects that bite (I am!) – or more likely we are susceptible to irritation from the bites. So – if sprays aren’t working, cover up – wear socks or leggings (sorry, not sure if you’re male or female!) An old soldier’s trick is to put flea collars around your ankles inside your boots, but I doubt that’s a look you’ll want to try on holiday.

      You could try some essential oils (you must dilute before putting on your skin) – eucalyptus, cedarwood, lemongrass and pine are said to be effective. Lemon, orange and lavender are also used sometimes. If you haven’t tried it – citronella, which is often used as a mosquito repellent.

      Get advice for bites here

  22. i have bites all over my leg and this weird juice is coming out what should i do??????please reply their literally attacking me and my skin is very sensitive and ive been bit ever since i was little.Please reply!!!Thx

    • Jessica – you need to find out where the fleas are coming from and deal with that. As for your skin, if it is sensitive and weeping, I would go to see a pharmacist to get advice.

  23. Hello,
    How long does it take a for a flea bite to show on someone? We’ve got a bit of an infestation at home and even though we use the frontline on the cat and have sprayed the house, we couldn’t get rid of the fleas. The Council has come around now and fumigated the house and hopefully that will work but they also told me to use something different from frontline because apparently they’ve had loads of callouts for people using frontline and it not working. I have to use something else called Advantage.
    Anyway, my step daughter keeps getting bitten but she also get’s bitten at her mum’s two to three days after she’s been at ours and her mum says it’s from our house but shouldn’t flea bites show up straight away? I’m worried that there may be fleas at her mum’s and that we will never get rid of the problem if they are over there because they will keep coming back to ours.
    Thanks
    Gemma

    • Hi Gemma

      Advantage is good when nothing else seems to work – I can vouch for that! You can see what people are saying about Frontline here.

      As for flea bites showing up, it can depend on the person getting bitten – if something bites me (fleas/mosquitoes/etc), the effect is pretty immediate. Some other people don’t seem to be so affected and it doesn’t show up. It may also look worse after a while because you scratch and it gets inflamed/sore, so it might look like you’ve been bitten a while after you actually were.

      Doubtful that your step-daughter would bring fleas back from her mother’s house, unless she is transporting an animal between the two houses.

      Please read this post about keeping your house clear of fleas – I know the Council have fumigated, but it might be worth taking some time to hoover up for a few days following just to be sure you’ve got rid of any stray eggs/larvae.

      Best wishes

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