There are various ways people can get rid of fleas. These include vacuuming regularly, treating pets for fleas, and washing bedding often.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center, fleas live and feed on the skin of animals, including humans, all over the world. Fleas can multiply very quickly, with female adult fleas laying around 30–50 eggs per day on their host.

Fleas can also live for several months without a host. Around 95% of fleas, eggs, larvae, and pupae live in the home, not on pets. Therefore, when tackling a flea infestation, it is crucial to treat the home environment and the pet at the same time.

This article looks at how to deal with fleas on pets and in the home, why fleas are hazardous to human health, and what to do if complications from fleas develop.

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Dealing with a severe flea infestation may seem an insurmountable task. However, a consistent and patient approach to removing fleas will help eradicate any infestation.

1. Vacuuming frequently

An easy step is to use a vacuum with a removable, disposable bag to suck up fleas, eggs, larvae, and pupae from floors, furniture, mattresses, exposed floorboards, and skirting boards, if possible. This will help destroy fleas regardless of the stage they are at in their life cycle.

It is important to throw away the vacuum bag after each use or empty and wash the vacuum cylinder.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), vacuuming every day is the best way to control a flea infestation.

2. Washing all bedding often

Frequent washing of bedding, pet bedding and blankets in particular, is another effective way to remove fleas.

Washing bedding at the highest temperature appropriate for the material and drying it on a high heat setting, if possible, will help destroy fleas, as well as any eggs, larvae, and pupae.

A steam cleaner is useful for deep cleaning mattresses, carpets, upholstery, and drapes.

The EPA advise replacing old bedding if the infestation is particularly serious.

3. Using flea treatment

Another option is using safe regular flea treatment that is suitable for a person’s pet.

If in doubt, a person can seek guidance from a vet, who will suggest best treatment and dosage for their pet’s species, age, and weight. Larger animals may require a bigger dosage.

Flea treatments for dogs are not always suitable for cats, as some contain permethrin, which is toxic to cats.

4. Doing regular pet checks

It is important to check pets and their bedding for signs of fleas regularly. These signs include scratching, hair loss, specks in the fur, and redness and irritation.

Treating fleas early on will make it less likely for a pet to develop tapeworm and other flea-related diseases.

5. Combing pets

Pet owners may wish to try combing their pets regularly with a fine-tooth flea comb. Doing this over a white surface, such as a large sheet of paper, will help identify fleas and their eggs or droppings.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advise adding a few drops of water to any specks that fall out. If they turn reddish brown, they are likely to be flea droppings.

Fleas tend to gather at the neck and tail, so it is important to focus on these areas. Dunking the comb in hot soapy water will kill the fleas.

6. Using chemical treatment

If fleas continue to be a problem in the home, a person can consider using a chemical treatment, such as an aerosol spray. Foggers, also known as bug bombs, are not effective in removing fleas.

It is essential to ensure that humans and pets are out of the home during application of the treatment and until the spray has dried.

Local pest control operators may also offer flea control and removal services.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), fleas can cause a range of health issues for humans, including minor irritations and allergic reactions and serious diseases and infections.

  • Cat, dog, or human flea bites can cause skin irritation and itching, allergic reactions, and dermatitis.
  • Fleas can transmit diseases and parasites, such as tapeworm, to humans.
  • Bites from a flea from a rodent or other wild animal can cause plague, a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Plague is still a problem in parts of western United States, as well as in South America, Africa, Russia, parts of Eastern Europe, and Asia. Although rare, plague is one of the most common diseases resulting from the bite of an infected flea.
  • Rat or cat flea bites may also spread typhus, a disease caused by infection of the Rickettsia bacteria. Typhus is present in many parts of the world, including the U.S. While it can be deadly, most people make a full recovery with prompt treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled in the U.S. in the last two decades.

A person should see a doctor if they have a flea bite and develop any of the following:

  • swelling, redness, or irritation at the site of the bite that is 10 centimeters or larger
  • symptoms of infection, such as pus, swelling, pain, or redness
  • fever, swollen glands, or flu-like symptoms

A person should seek emergency medical treatment if they have a flea bite and experience any of the following symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • swelling of the lips or face
  • nausea or vomiting
  • increased heart rate
  • dizziness
  • loss of consciousness

Serious flea infestations can happen quickly if a person does not take any steps to control them.

Treating both the home environment and the pet is crucial for tackling and controlling flea infestations.

It is important to note that, according to the National Pesticide Information Center, there is no scientific evidence to prove that natural or home remedies are effective. It is therefore not advisable to rely solely on these types of remedies.

Fleas can cause a range of health issues for humans, from minor allergic reactions and irritations to serious infections and diseases.

A person with symptoms of infection from a flea bite should see a doctor as soon as possible.

A person with a flea bite who experiences difficulty breathing, severe swelling, nausea, vomiting, or loss of consciousness should seek emergency treatment.