Fleas…on people? Though not something you hear of often, it is quite possible. Despite the fact that fleas are often most associated with pets and wild animals, there are over 2,000 different species of fleas and many that have the capability of surviving on the skin of humans. In centuries past, fleas were one of the major culprits of death in various plagues that took on the world.

Though rare, fleas are still capable of transmitting highly devastating diseases in today’s world, though it is more common for these insects to cause highly uncomfortable skin irritations. These fleas are capable of living immediately underneath and on top of human skin and reproducing at fast rates. Now that we know it is possible for humans to experience a flea infestation, how do you get rid of such insects? Continue reading to find out.

Male Human Flea Drawing
Pen and ink drawing by A.J.E. Terzi, ca. 1919.

What is a Human Flea?

The human flea – scientifically termed “Pulex Irritans” – was once referred to as the “house flea”. It is believed that it originated within the South America region. It has a lifecycle that consists of four distinct parts – the egg, larvae, pupae, and the adult.

Once the adult flea hatches from the pupae, it must immediately find a warm-blooded type of host to indulge in blood meals. Adults measure from 1.5mm to 4mm in overall length. The body is typically very flat, dark brown, with mouth components that are capable of both piercing and sucking.

Flea Bites to the Lower Leg of a Human Subject 01

The Effects of Human Flea Bites

Fleas are considered to be pests, regardless of the host – be it a human or an animal. When the host receives a bite, the skin experiences an itching sensation that is considered to be highly uncomfortable. The skin may start to swell and become raised.

Itching is almost always experienced. Bites nearly always occur in rows or within clusters. They may be irritated for many weeks.

When fleas impact humans, they may flock to the eyelashes, the eyebrows, the head, and the pubic region. Hair loss may occur on the body where the fleas are located. If the infestation is severe, anemia may occur as a result of the blood that is lost while the fleas are feeding.

photo of a flea

Severe Illness

Human fleas may cause the plague. This is a special type of disease that stems from a bacterium known as “Yersinia Pestis”. Fleas are known to actually carry this bacterium. In the Middle Ages, the plague resulted in millions of deaths in the area of Eurasia. While it is still possible for the plague to affect humans today, there are treatments available. If treatment is not sought, it has the ability to cause very serious sickness and even kill the sufferer.

The good news is, human fleas are not very common within the United States.

Most cases of “human fleas” are cases of pet fleas infecting owners and similar situations where animals have been infected with fleas and a human has been caught in the proverbial “crossfire”.

How Do Humans “Get” Fleas, Anyway?

In nine out of ten cases, most humans get fleas because they have come into contact with an animal with a flea infestation. Read the information below to learn about modes of transmission when it comes to human fleas:

  • The first and most obvious ways for a person to get fleas is by coming into contact with your pet that has a flea infestation. According to studies, if your pet gets fleas and they come indoors, it could take as little as a month for thousands of these bloodsucking pests to infest your home.
  • Farms are known as prime areas where human fleas thrive. This is especially true if the farm has pigs on it. Human fleas are highly attracted to pigs and humans.
  • Do you live in an area that has birds, rats, or foxes? If so, you may find yourself experiencing issues with fleas as they feed on other types of hosts that may surround your home and/or property.
  • If you do not own any type of pet, you still run the risk of getting fleas if you travel. For example, if you visit an area that is infested with fleas, the pests may attach themselves to your luggage, clothing, and/or shoes and make their way home with you.

Signs of Human Fleas

The average human body is composed of anywhere from 9 pints to 12 pints of blood. Human fleas feed on the blood of the warm-blooded creature that they infest – including humans. There are many signs that an infestation of human fleas is occurring. The following outline the most common of these signs:

  1. First, you may find that you have a line, row, or type of cluster of red dots on the skin that visibly look like bites. Swelling will occur around the bites, much like that which happens when a mosquito bite occurs.
  2. If you have light-colored furniture, bedding, towels, and clothing, you may start to see unusual and unexplainable black flakes or specks on the items. This is referred to as “flea dirt”.
  3. If you have pets and notice that they are scratching and/or you actually see fleas on your pet, it is quite likely that you will experience some degree of complication from the infestation yourself.

Getting Rid of the Human Fleas

In most instances, you will only know that you have a human flea problem after experiencing the detrimental effects of the situation. To get rid of them, you must have to first determine the ultimate source of the problem. In nearly all cases, you must start with your surroundings or your environment prior to treating the fleas that may be on your body. That means, your home. Take the following steps to start with:

  1. Look around your home. Look for areas where fleas may hide and may place their eggs. In order to get rid of the fleas, you must interrupt the life cycle – which means getting rid of those eggs before they are able to hatch. Common areas where fleas may hide include inside of your furniture, in or near your bed, and most definitely in any type of pet bedding that is located in or around your home.
  2. Throw out, burn, or otherwise destroy anything that you consider to be the ultimate source when it comes to your flea infestation.
  3. If you have pets in or around the home, ensure that they are given some type of flea treatment, even if it is nothing more than a flea collar.
  4. Thoroughly clean and vacuum the area near where you have determined the source of the infestation stemmed from.
  5. Hire a professional pest control company to come in and treat both the inside and the outside of your home for fleas. While it is true that there are over-the-counter flea treatments available, these typically only minimize the infestation. Professional pest control treatments will treat the problem at its source and will completely eliminate the eggs, the pupae, and the adult fleas that are in or around your home.

If your body is infested with human fleas, you may take the following steps in order to experience some degree of relief:

  1. First, perform all of the steps that have been previously outlined when it comes to the treatment of your home, your property, and your pet or pets.
  2. If you experience fleabites to the skin, you should place either calamine lotion or aloe vera lotion on the bites as these substances will help in combatting the itchiness that often stems from the irritations that are left behind.
  3. To combat the discomfort of the flea bites, you may also take an over-the-counter antihistamine.
  4. If need be, you may make an appointment with your primary care provider in order to evaluate your bites. They will be able to determine if you are experiencing an allergic reaction, an infection, or an illness from the fleas that are bothering you. If so, there are many types of medications, ointments, antibiotics, and other products that may be prescribed to help you overcome the challenges of the issues that you are facing.
  5. Make certain that you continue with the professional pest control company when it comes to getting rid of human fleas. In addition to the flea treatments that will combat the problem, the company will also aid in the clean up of the infested area. This clean up will ensure that the problem is not experienced again.

Get Rid of Fleas Now

It is very challenging to get rid of fleas; that is, unless you allow us here at All Pest to help you with the job! We utilize state-of-the-art flea treatments and top of the line products to ensure that we completely eliminate any and all fleas from within and surrounding your home.

Best of all, we offer the most competitive pricing model of any company in the industry. For more information, contact us today by calling: 765-259-0043