flea bites

Of all insect or arthropod bites, flea bites are among the most common. Children may be bitten by human, cat, or dog fleas (insect family Pulicidae).

Fleas lay their eggs in dusty areas, rugs, and cracks between floorboards. The eggs hatch and produce larvae that then form cocoons. The cocoons lie dormant and can live for up to a year. The adult flea emerges in response to vibrations from footsteps. This accounts for the unpleasant surprize people sometimes get when they occupy a house that has stood empty for a number of months.

Once hatched, adult dog fleas can live for up to two months without a blood meal. They are more likely to bite humans if they do not have a dog around to bite. The bites are grouped in lines or clusters, often on the legs or ankles. If you suspect flea bites on your children, you may not find fleas on your pet. A more reliable test is to shake the animal's bedding into a plastic bag and examine the residue for fleas, their eggs, larvae or droppings. Your veterinarian can help you with this.


Treatment is basically aimed at symptom relief:

  • oral antihistamines for itching (Benadryl®, diphenhydramine - get the dose from your doctor)
  • cool compresses
  • calamine lotion (to which 0.25% menthol and 0.5% phenol can be added by your pharmacist)
  • topical steroid creams (CortAid® and similar) do not seem to work very well


Your veterinarian and pest control specialist can give you the best advice to rid pets and home of fleas in a way that will be least toxic to you and your children. Insect repellants containing diethyltoluamide (DEET) applied to exposed skin and clothing give some protection. This is improved when clothing is impregnated with permethrin spray.

Night, Night! Dr. Hull's Common Sense Sleep Solutions© Copyright© Site Information/Disclaimer