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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Flea Bites
July 2000

Q. I have severe reactions to flea bites. I know you can use something called Advantage on your pet to prevent flea attacks, but what about humans? HELP!

A. Fleas are extremely common in dogs and cats and are in fact a very common cause of allergic dermatitis (skin inflammation that causes itching) in these animals. Unfortunately, some people are also allergic to the fleas. It is actually flea saliva that elicits the allergy after being bit by the flea. Treatment would include #1, avoiding pets if at all possible. If you can't, then the next step is antihistamine treatment such as Allegra or Claritin once per day. Zyrtec is another excellent choice. If you still have symptoms of itching, a topical steroid such as Triamcinolone cream can be prescribed. If you are only exposed to pets intermittently and want to avoid these medications, you may consider using Cutter's insect repellent, which may keep the fleas out of your hair!

However, keep in mind that if you have an indoor pet with fleas, because of the flea's life cycle including their eggs, they can remain active in your home for quite a while. Consult your Vet on how to get rid of fleas in the house (see reference).

Hope this helps.


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