Fleas have a lot of gross habits: They drink our blood and regularly leave their droppings behind, often for their young to eat.
Listen, we love our kids, but that is just multiple bridges too far. There is another deeply perplexing habit that all fleas share, and it revolves around our feet.
If you have had a flea infestation or have experienced the discomfort of flea bites, you likely know this fact first hand (or first foot). Unlike some other pests such as bed bugs, fleas enjoy going right for our ankles. You would not think that this spot has the highest concentration of blood, so what is it that attracts fleas to this particular spot?
Fleas’ affinity for our lower legs, feet, and ankles is far from just a coincidence. This article will explain why these little bloodsuckers are so likely to go for these parts of your body.
Why Do Fleas Suck Our Blood?
Bugs such as bees, yellow jackets, fire ants, and more will leave stings when provoked or when they feel threatened. Causing mammals discomfort is a defense mechanism rather than a method of obtaining sustenance.
Meanwhile, pests such as bed bugs, mosquitoes, and fleas all bite us rather than sting. The reason for these insect bites is to suck the blood of both humans and animals, which then allows female fleas to lay eggs and continue the cycle. Yep, that’s right: male mosquitoes don’t suck blood; they feast on flowers instead.
Not only does sucking blood give fleas the energy and fuel that they need to breed, but they also use it to feed their larvae. Once the flea eggs have hatched, these young fleas are not yet ready to feed on their own. So instead, the adult fleas poop it out, and the larva then eats it.
After they steal human blood, they really make the most out of it, but somehow that does not make us feel much better.
What Are the Symptoms of a Flea Bite?
There are two primary ways that you could first realize you have been bitten by a flea:
- First, you are likely to notice a distinct itchy feeling. After a while, that might prompt you to visually inspect the area.
- Then, you will probably be greeted by the site of a red, small spot. In some cases, there might be a discolored ring around the bite, so be sure to inspect the surrounding area.
How exactly your bug bite looks is a strong indicator of which insect caused the reaction in the first place. Flea bites look like a less raised version of mosquito bites, and they often come in clusters or lines. After all, when a flea finds a good spot to bite, why would they not invite their whole family to the party?
Knowing which kind of bug you are dealing with will determine your next steps regarding pest control. Also, by keeping a close eye on your symptoms, you will know if you need to seek out further help.
Flea Bites Cause an Itchy Allergic Reaction
An allergic reaction occurs when the body issues an attack against something that it perceives as a threat. This “threat” is referred to as an “allergen.” In reality, these allergens are not actually dangerous to us. However, when the body determines there is a present danger, our bodies’ automatic overreaction can be harmful.
Like mosquito bites or bed bug bites, fleas deposit a certain amount of their saliva when chowing down on their blood meal. Even though the total amount of saliva is minimal, the body springs into action in self-defense. The chemical histamine is sent to the site of the flea saliva (or the allergen). It is this chemical that causes most people to feel itchy as a result of a flea bite.
Some people have stronger allergic reactions to allergens than others. This is why some people might have an allergy to something like shellfish while other people do not.
It is possible that someone could not be allergic to flea saliva at all or that they could have a much more severe reaction than most. Having a more severe reaction could lead to potentially dangerous consequences, so here is what to look out for.
What Are the Risks of a Flea Bite?
A flea bite can come with risks beyond red spots that feel itchy for several days to a week or so. In the middle ages, infected fleas were the primary cause and spreaders of the bubonic plague (also known as the Black Death).
Luckily, that specific disease is not a huge concern, but fleas can still be carriers of other diseases like Typhus. Apart from diseases, there are other dangers associated with these pests that we still have to deal with.
Those who are more allergic to flea saliva than others could get a rash, break out into hives, or even experience difficulty breathing. If you or your child starts to have trouble breathing or feels their throat narrowing, it is integral to seek out medical attention as soon as possible.
Other than allergies, you could also be at risk of a bacterial infection due to an open wound. This risk increases significantly if the sight of the bite is regularly scratched at, causing the wound to reopen.
When To Seek Treatment for Flea Bites
If you or your child are experiencing a severe allergic reaction, or if your symptoms do not go away promptly, it is time to see a doctor.
After a while, what were initially small red bumps could form a blister or welts, and this needs attention. Nothing is more important than the well-being of our kids, so it is always better to err on the side of caution.
What Do Fleas Find So Enticing About Our Ankles?
Now that we know who fleas are and why they suck (sorry), we need to explore why they are so attracted to biting our ankles. After all, cat or dog fleas are not likely to go for your pets’ legs.
What is it that makes human skin so special?
Our Lower Legs Are at Ground Level
The simplest reason fleas opt for our ankles is that they are relatively easy to reach. Whether you encounter a flea on a carpeted surface of your home or outside in the grass, they can only go so high. Fleas are wingless creatures, so they lack the ability to quickly travel from the ground to further up our bodies.
That being said, fleas are quite the little Olympic jumpers. In fact, fleas can jump 13 inches off the ground. When you consider that adults of the species are roughly an eighth of an inch long, that number is staggering. That jumping ability would put fleas at just the right height to reach an adult’s legs and ankles.
Meanwhile, 13 inches off the ground will reach much higher on our kids than it will on adults. However, kids also typically get bitten on their ankles and legs too. This means that there has to be another reason for our ankles being the spot of choice for fleas.
We Often Leave Our Ankles Exposed
Other than height (or a lack thereof), what could make fleas so intrigued by our ankles? If you think about it, this section of our leg is often one of the more exposed areas of our body. Especially on hot days, many of us will choose to wear shorts, making our lower legs full of exposed skin.
Even if you are wearing pants, ankle socks, and sneakers, you still have a convenient clearing for fleas to make themselves right at home. Even if fleas can jump a little higher up on our bodies, the ankle is a reliable spot for them to really sink their teeth into.
Due to the flea’s minuscule size, they are unable to bite through clothing. Therefore, wearing long socks or pants that cover your entire leg can be very helpful in keeping them at bay.
How Can You Ease the Itchiness?
When we are bitten by annoying insects, we want to find a way to get more comfortable. When our kids are bitten, it adds a whole new sense of urgency.
Luckily, there are many flea treatments that are both natural and effective. To make kids and adults feel better fast without all the harsh chemicals, MagicPatch Itch Relief Patches have you covered.
If anyone in your family is experiencing additional allergy symptoms, AllergyPatch Allergy Relief Stickers offer a powerful but safe way to make people of all ages feel better.
Fleas Below the Knees
Of all the pests, fleas simultaneously manage to be one of the smallest and grossest. That would almost be impressive if our families and our furry friends weren’t the ones paying the price.
Once you understand why fleas operate the way they do, it becomes much easier to treat the symptoms and even to get rid of them for good.
Allergic Reaction Defined | AAAAI
Flea Bites in Humans Treatment and Symptoms | Medicine Net