If you share my fondness for animals and desire a bug-free household, then you certainly understand the struggle of dealing with our furry companions potentially carrying fleas into our living spaces. These pesky parasites thrive on our beloved pets and can invade our homes if proper precautions are not implemented. As a result, we may also become targets of these unwanted guests.
In this article, we will break down everything you need to know about how fleas interact with humans.
Can Fleas Live on Humans?
The short answer to this question is no, fleas cannot live on humans. While they will try and bite humans (more on that later), humans are not capable of sustaining fleas long term. The thing that fleas love about animals is the abundance of fur or feathers on the animal that the fleas can hide within.
The lack of fur or feathers on humans makes it difficult for fleas to reproduce and lay eggs on human skin. Even though this is possible in extreme cases, it is incredibly unlikely and requires a much longer feeding period for the flea to be able to do so (about 12 hours – and hopefully by then you’ve realized that a flea is on you!)
Think about all the things you do in a day that could potentially wipe away a flea from your skin. Anything from changing your clothes, taking a shower, itching your leg, etc… ultimately, makes our skin unsuitable to be a host environment for fleas. Which is a great thing for us!
Can Fleas Get in Human Hair?
If you’re sitting there thinking, “Well I know some pretty hairy guys and some pretty hairy places on everyone’s body…” I hear you! So let’s talk about it. Yes, humans do have places that are more densely populated with hair (think your head, underarms, pubic area, eyebrows, and for some people their chest).
However, while it’s fair to assume that fleas may try to hide in those areas on humans, ultimately, they’re still unsuitable living environments for the fleas, just like fleas living on clothes.. If a flea does get on you and attempt to “hide” in those hairy areas, ultimately you would sense that they are there and would know you need to figure out what is going on with that itch or pinching feeling that you were experiencing.
Will Fleas Feed on Humans?
If a flea will try and get on humans, will they attempt to feed on human blood?
Well… a flea’s main source of food is the blood of its animal host. If there are no animals present, fleas will try (sometimes successfully) to bite and feed on human blood. While it is not their preferred meal, if it is the only thing available, fleas will attempt to get a meal out of our blood by biting us.
Typically though, after they have gotten enough for a meal, they will leave us alone after that. The problem with this is that there usually isn’t just one flea, there are many. This is where things can become a problem for humans because getting bitten by multiple fleas can certainly be uncomfortable and painful!
It is important to note that the most common species of flea that most of us will face is the “Cat Flea” which actually lives on both cats and dogs. Like stated, these fleas prefer animal hosts to human hosts, but will go after humans as a last resort.
However, there is one species of flea that does go after humans… the Chigoe flea, commonly known as a jigger. This species of flea is native to Latin America and parts of Africa. It is known to specifically target human hosts.
What Do Flea Bites On Humans Look Like?
If a flea does bite you, it is likely to bite you around your legs, ankles, or any of the hairy areas that they may try to hide in. This bite will result in a raised, red-tinted discolored bump on the bitten area. Typically, there won’t just be one bite but a cluster of bites where the fleas (yes, its likely to be plural fleas) were on you and chose to bite you.
Interestingly enough, its not actually the bite that causes the irritation on the skin. When a flea bites you, yes it takes your blood to eat, but it actually leaves behind saliva that is secreted into your bloodstream.
That saliva mixing with your blood is what causes the actual irritation and the bump itself. While the bite itself typically only causes mild irritation to human skin, in severe cases, fleas can transmit diseases through their saliva, which can lead to more severe problems if not treated properly (again, in rare and severe cases only).
How to Prevent Fleas
Some good news in all of this is that fleas are incredibly easy to prevent from entering your home, your pet, and yourself! Flea prevention medication for pets and outdoor flea spray for your home are two of the easiest and most accessible tools that are at your disposal to prevent fleas from entering your home.
Animals are the most common ways that fleas make their ways into human spaces. Making sure that your pet is properly medicated with flea treatment will not only protect your pet from getting infected with fleas, but it will keep you protected as well!
Another effective method for preventing fleas would be treating the exterior of your home with a flea spray/repellent which will help prevent fleas entering your space on their own. If you’re diligent enough with protecting your space and checking what you bring into your home, you can easily prevent fleas from finding their way to you!
Here are some additional DIY ways to get rid of fleas:
Final Thoughts On If Fleas Can Live On Humans
Fleas really are pesky, unwanted houseguests. And while, ultimately, they present very little risk to seriously harm humans… they can certainly be incredibly annoying to have to deal with!! Luckily for us, our skin (and even the hairy areas of our bodies) are not suitable hosts for fleas to live on long-term and there are many things we do in a day that will naturally remove them if they do find their ways to being on us.
I hope this guide on can fleas live on humans was helpful, and gives you some peace of mind.