Are you sitting there with flea bites on your ankles, fighting the urge to scratch? Flea bites are similar to mosquito bites, and they are both very itchy!
What is it that causes this itching sensation though? Simply put, it is the flea saliva. However, the full explanation is a little more in depth.
Here we will go over what causes flea bites to itch, and ways to relieve the itching.
When fleas bite, they will inject their into their host. The reason they do this is because the saliva has anticoagulant properties. This means that it will thin the blood in the bite area, preventing it from clotting. The blood is then free to flow into the flea. Mosquitoes do the exact same thing when they bite. Unfortunately, the flea saliva also causes the itchy sensation, because it triggers a defensive response from our body.
As soon as your body detects the flea saliva, it will recognize it as a foreign substance and a threat. As a response, it will send out histamines to the area. The histamines will cause the blood vessels around the bite to swell up, containing the intrusion. The swelled blood vessels in the area cause the raised bump, redness, and itchy sensation. So, it is not directly the flea saliva that causes the itchiness, it is your body’s defenses.
In some dogs and cats, the histamine response can be intense. Lesions and extreme itchiness can cause pets to scratch so much that they lose hair. This is known as flea allergy dermatitis, or flea bite hypersensitivity.
Relieving the Itchiness
There are some topical and oral medications that you can use to relieve the itchy sensation from flea bites. You can buy the following bite treatments over-the-counter; calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream, tea tree oil, and anti-histamines. Read more about these products in our article about flea bite treatments.
Preventing Flea Bites
A good way to stop itchy flea bites is to never get bitten in the first place. There are some flea repellents that you can use to keep fleas away. For your skin, you can use DEET or Avon Skin-So-Soft bath oil. For your clothes (socks, shoes, pants) , you can use permethrin spray. Read more about flea repellent for humans.