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    Fleas

    Dog fleas; Siphonaptera

    Fleas are small insects that feed on the blood humans, dog, cats, and warm-blooded animals.

    Causes

    Fleas prefer to live on dogs and cats. They may also be found on humans and other animals.

    Pet owners may not be bothered by fleas until the pet is gone for a long period of time. Fleas look for other sources of food and begin to bite humans. Bites often occur around the waist, ankles, armpits, and in the bend of the elbows and knees.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms of flea bites include hives, itching and rash.

    The rash:

    • Has small bumps often groups of 3 that may itch and bleed
    • May be located on the armpit or fold of a joint (at the elbow, knee, or ankle)
    • Turns white when pressed
    • May develop in skin folds, such as under breasts or in the groin

    You may also have swelling around a sore or injury.

    Exams and Tests

    A skin biopsy is sometimes done.

    Treatment

    The goal of treatment is to get rid of the fleas. This can be doneby treatingyour home, pets, and outside areas with chemicals (pesticides). Small children should not be in the home when pesticides are being used. Birds and fish must be protected when chemicals are sprayed.Home foggers and flea collars do not always work to get rid of fleas. If home treatments do not work, you may need to get professional pest control help.

    You can us anover-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone to relieve itching. Antihistamines you take by mouth may also help with itching.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Getting rid of fleas can be hard and may take many tries.

    Possible Complications

    Scratching can lead to a skin infection.

    Prevention

    Prevention may not always be possible.Use of of chemical sprays may be helpful if fleas are common in your area. Professionalpest controlmay be needed in some cases.

    References

    Habif TM. Infestations and bites. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Mosby Elsevier;2009:chap 15.

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    • Flea

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    • Flea bite - close-up

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      • Flea

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      • Flea bite - close-up

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      Review Date: 11/20/2012

      Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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      St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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