Babies may get infested by fleas if they are unmonitored. Flea bites can cause mild rashes to severe allergies, depending on the bodily response. As babies cannot convey their problems, you should pay attention to their responses to stimuli.
Observing the babies for any signs of fleabites is essential to help relieve symptoms and related discomforts. Keep reading the post as we tell you how fleabites look like, how to prevent them, treatment, and the consequences.
What Are Fleas?
Fleas are tiny parasitic insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. Usually found dwelling on the fur of animals, tall grasses, rugs, and doormats in the house, they are light brown to black and have a high reproduction rate. These are commonly seen during warm weather (1).
They can leap 50 times their body weight and get firmly attached to the skin to suck blood (2). Fleas can be killed by pesticide treatment of the house and by treating pets with appropriate pet-friendly medications.
What Do Fleabites Look Like?
Identifying fleabites is essential to decide the treatment and necessary actions to prevent future contact with insects. Flea bites can cause the following signs and symptoms.
- Small bumps with redness
- Clusters of few bumps or lines of redness (3)
- Bumps are sore, painful, and itchy
- Some children may develop blisters, hives, or rash around the fleabites as an allergic reaction (4)
- The common sites of fleabites are legs, ankles, groins, waist, buttocks, thighs, and lower abdomen (5)
Complications Of Flea Infestations In Babies
Fleabites and presence of fleas around the baby may lead to the following consequences and complications.
- Scratching the fleabites may lead to fungal and bacterial infections, causing further complications.
- Fleas could carry bacteria, which could cause diseases, such as typhus and plague, in humans (6).
- Skin problems, such as dermatitis and allergic urticarial, have been reported in many cases of flea bites (7).
- Flea-borne typhus fever is a serious illness due to flea bites. It can cause fever, chills, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite, and rashes, lasting for about a week (8).
- Infected fleas could indirectly spread cat scratch disease, which spreads in humans through cat bites or scratches (9).
- Human cases of plague due to flea bites are rare but, if affected, can be seen as sores and abscesses in the glands of the arms and legs.
- Swallowing an infected flea may lead to intestinal tapeworms (10).
- Murine Typhus can also be caused by flea bites (10).
- Papular urticaria affects children more than adults due to flea bites (11).
- Tungiasis can be caused due to burrowing fleas (1).
Treatment For Fleabites In Babies
Wash the area with water and mild soap to avoid allergic reactions on the skin. Also, use any of these ways to relieve the symptoms of fleabites.
- Cold compression: Ice or cold water wipes over the fleabites help reduce the soreness, redness, and itching.
- Aloe vera gel: It works as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial product.
- Calamine lotion: It helps reduce allergic reactions, soothes the skin, and reduces signs of inflammation and itching.
- Over-the-counter ointments: Hydrocortisone (1%) creams help reduce skin reactions, allergies, and dermatitis (5). Do consult the child’s pediatrician before using any medicated products for the baby.
- Essential oils: Tea tree oil, sweet almond oil, rosemary oil, and coconut oils are known to help reduce itching and inflammation.
- Baby lotions: These soothe the skin and reduce itching.
- Nail-trimming: Cut the baby’s nails to avoid scratching and further worsening the condition with secondary bacterial or fungal infections (12).
- Anti-allergic drugs: Doctors may prescribe antihistamine drugs to reduce the symptoms of flea bites (13).
If the signs of flea bites do not reduce or the baby is having a fever or seems to be dull, consult the doctor for appropriate treatment.
Preventing Flea Bites In Babies
Avoiding any contact with fleas is the best solution for babies. It can be done in the following ways.
- Find the source of fleas: If you frequently see fleabites on the child’s body, you have to find the source. It could be from the pets, construction sites, yard, unhygienic environment, heavy-wooded areas, or daycare facility for the baby. Treating these sources with anti-flea liquids, pesticides, and insecticides helps in preventing flea growth and infestation. Mowing the yard also helps reduce flea growth in the grass.
- Monitor the playground areas: If you take your baby out to a garden frequently, look for any fleas hidden in the grass. Walk around the place wearing white socks to catch the fleas.
- Cover the baby with clothes: During outdoor playtime, cover the baby with full-body clothes, such as onesies or bodysuits. You can also opt for socks and gloves for the baby. The aim is to cover the baby’s arms and legs without making the baby feel hot or suffocated. It will protect the baby from any insect bite.
- Make pets flea-free: To identify if your pet is suffering from flea bites, look for signs such as scratching, hair fall, redness, or scabs on the pet’s skin (14). Anti-flea sprays and flea collars can be used for pets to get rid of fleas. Bathing your pets regularly with anti-flea shampoos will help avoid flea infestation. Maintaining good hygiene is essential when you have pets at home. Combing your pets routinely also reduces the chances of fleas building up in their fur. Do not allow pets in the baby’s bed, as fleas can get into rugs and sheets fur. Take the help of a veterinary doctor to free your pet from fleas.
- Go for pest control: Schedule a professional pest control program once a year or two in your home and surrounding area. You may have to shift toa different residence for a few days when the pest control is going on, as it could cause allergic reactions.
- Clean the fabrics: Vacuum cleaning the doormats, rugs, carpets, fabric sofa covers, and other sheets is essential to get rid of any flea eggs or droppings. Treating such items with boric acid powder can help in preventing any insect build-up. Cleaning all suspected fabrics with warm steam is also an effective method (15).
- Use repellents: Insect repellent lotions can be applied over the body’s exposed areas when going out. Insect repellent fabric roll-ons and sprays can also be used to avoid any contact with fleas or other insects (8).
Babies are susceptible to flea bites as they play, lie and crawl on the floor. Hence, taking precautions is mandatory. It can be upsetting to see fleabites on babies, but usually, the fleabites subside on their own within a few days (16). You can soothe the baby to prevent irritation. Extermination of fleas at home and avoiding them while outdoors are essential measures to avoid long-term complications. If you have pets, groom them appropriately instead of abandoning them.
2. J. C. Carlson and M. S. Fox; AA sticktight flea removed from the cheek of a two-year old boy from Los Angeles; Dermatology Online Journal (2009)
3. D. J. Yi Wong; Flea Bite; Dreamnet NZ (2014)
4. Fleas, Mites and Chiggers; Johns Hopkins Medicine
5. Fleas; MedlinePlus U. S. National Library of Medicine
6. Fleas; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
7. M. R. Youssefi et al.; Dermatitis caused by Ctenocephalidesfelis (cat flea) in humans; Caspian Journal of Internal Medicine (2014)
8. Flea-borne (murine) typhus; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
9. Diseases from fleas; King County
10. Fleas; Environment Health and Quality; San Diego County
11. Prevalence of papularurticaria caused by flea bites and associated factors in children 1-6 years of age in Bagota, DC ; US National Library of Medicine (2017)
12. Flea, Mite, or Chigger Bites in Children; Stanford Children’s Hospital
13. Flea Bites; American Osteopathic College of Dermatology
14. A. Burke; What Do Flea Bites Look Like on Dogs?; American Kennel Club
15. R. M. Houseman; Fleas, Extension University Of Missouri
16. Flea bites 101; Pest World.