Are you noticing flea bites in consistent places around your feet and ankles? If so, then you’re not alone. What’s that about? Is there something special about ankles that attract flea bites?
Why do fleas bite your ankles?
Fleas bite your ankles because it’s the easiest place on your body for them to reach!
Here are the basics:
- Fleas bite our ankles because it is the part of our body located at the average height of their jumps.
- Fleas cannot fly, so they have to jump to reach higher places.
- There is often exposed skin between the ends of our socks and the cuffs of our pants.
Read on to learn more about why fleas bite ankles, and what you can do about it.
Why Do Fleas Bite Your Ankles?
Fleas do not have wings, so they can’t fly. Instead, they have to jump to reach their hosts, with most fleas having an average jump height of around 5.2 inches. Some of the most athletic fleas can jump as high as 8 inches in the air, which is around the height that human calves are located.
It is a mind-blowing feat that they can jump so high, given their size.
Fleas can’t bite us through our clothing, so if you wear socks or stockings that cover your feet and lower ankles, they’ve got no choice but to move up above those.
If you choose to wear socks, there will often be a small gap of skin between the end of your pants and the start of your stockings.
If a flea lands on your socks, it will move to your exposed skin to bite you, and you won’t even notice them since your pants will obscure them.
If you want to prevent this, consider tucking your pants into your socks. Unfortunately, that’s not a good look.
Flea Bites Higher Up On the Leg
Almost all flea bites on humans happen below the knees. Even the upper legs are too far from the ground for fleas to reach in normal situations.
However, in some rare instances, flea bites can be found higher up in our bodies.
For example, fleas will have no trouble getting to your upper legs and waist if you sit on the floor. And accidentally letting a flea-ridden pet sleep in your bed will also often lead to flea bites all over the body.
A Brief Overview of Flea Bites
Bites caused by fleas appear as small, discolored lumps on the skin. They are the result of fleas drinking your blood, vampire-style. Gross, we know.
These bites seldom cause any long-term harm in the modern era.
The most damage that a flea bite will do to you is a short bout of irritation and itching before they subside completely.
That said, flea bites may sometimes be more dangerous, particularly to pets with anemia, as they could spread diseases.
Why Do Fleas Bite?
Both female and male fleas need to ingest blood. Females lay their eggs after consuming blood, they need it to successfully reproduce. And in some species, baby fleas feed on adult feces that is rich in blood, also known as flea dirt.
This is especially true for the flea species that commonly infect dogs, cats, and kittens.
Do Fleas Bite Humans?
Unfortunately, yes they bite humans!
But, the species of flea that commonly infect cats and dogs cannot live on people.
Pets have far more hair than we humans do, and fleas have a much easier time hiding in this hair than they do humans. Still, that won’t stop them from occasionally hopping onto you, biting, then jumping off.
Pets have far more hair than we humans do, and fleas have a much easier time hiding in this hair than they do humans.
Where Fleas Are Found?
You’ll see more fleas during warm weather months. Outdoors, fleas prefer to live in damp, cool areas where there’s plenty of shade, like tall grass, trees, shrubs, and leaves.
When animals walk by these areas, fleas jump onto them and begin feeding.
On cats, dogs, and other animals, fleas tend to live around the neck, ears, back, and abdomen. Once your pet has brought fleas into your home, they tend to leave the animal and hide in pet beds, furniture, carpets, cracks in the hardwood floors, and even bedding.
Flea Bite Symptoms
Flea bite symptoms can vary. If you were bitten by a disease-bearing flea, or the bite causes an allergic reaction, you may experience more severe symptoms.
Some of the most common symptoms are:
- A discolored circle surrounding the bite
- Irritated, itchy skin
More serious symptoms are:
- Infections carried by the flea cause rashes, headaches, body aches, abdominal pain, dizziness, weight loss, and weakness.
- An allergic reaction, including rash, hives, swelling, and shortness of breath.
Treatment for Flea Bites
Generally speaking, you won’t need to treat a flea bite. Anti-itch ointments, creams, and antihistamines may be purchased from most pharmacists and can work well to relieve any discomfort and itchy skin.
Of course, if more serious symptoms manifest after you’ve been bitten, be sure to talk to your physician.
Stopping a Flea Bite From Itching
The first thing to remember is that you should not scratch your bites, no matter how much they might itch. Doing so risks breaking the skin, which exposes you to additional infections. If you break the skin, ensure the area stays clean. Wash it using soap and some water, and cover the area with a bandaid.
If your bite becomes infected, you may need to visit your doctor. Flea bites typically only last three to four days at most, and there are plenty of drugstore medicines available that can prevent the bites from being irritating.
Here are some of the most popular itch treatments:
- Hydrocortisone – This corticosteroid works in conjunction with an anesthetic pain reliever. It relieves swelling and itching and can be applied to the bite directly as an ointment or cream.
- Antihistamines – Another common bite treatment, antihistamines are chemicals that are created naturally by the body’s immune system. Histamines are released after the immune system detects an allergen and are what causes flea bites to itch. Antihistamines can be taken as pills or applied to bites directly via ointment or cream.
- Ice – Applying ice to a bite will slow blood flow to that area, reducing swelling, pain, inflammation, and itchiness.
Many more home remedies are available for flea bites, though nothing works better than good old-fashioned medicines.
How to Prevent Flea Bites
The only way to stop being bitten by fleas is to exterminate the buggers! These vampire bugs are far more likely to feed on pets than humans. So if you notice bites on your body, be sure to examine your pet around the neck, back, ears, and abdomen.
Part their hair and look at the skin.
These bugs are far more likely to feed on pets than humans, so if you notice bites on your body, be sure to examine your pet.
If you do find fleas on your furry friend, here’s how to get rid of them:
- Flea shampoo – Get your pet thoroughly damp in lukewarm water, then apply plenty of flea shampoo to their fur. Avoid getting the product in their mouth and eyes as it can cause pain and irritation.
- Flea comb – Flea combs are unlike regular combs in that they have very densely-packed tines. When you brush your pet, the fleas get caught in these bristles, after which you can dip the comb in soapy water to kill the fleas.
- Wash bedding – Be sure to clean your pet’s bed every couple of days. As an extra precaution, you should also wash your own bedding, particularly if they sleep in your bed. Use the hottest setting possible on your dryer when drying your bedding to kill off any fleas that may have survived.
- Medicine – There are plenty of flea-treating medicines that you can buy from pet shops, both over-the-counter and prescription. Some medicines are oral, while others are topical.
How to Tell if it’s a Flea Bite
Flea bites have a unique appearance compared to other common bites left by insects. After a flea has bitten you, you’ll notice a tiny discolored bump, which may be accompanied by a reddish ring. Flea bites do not swell as much as mosquito bites do.
These bites are also unique in their location and bite pattern. You’ll often notice flea bites in a cluster or straight line on your body, often on the legs. This is different from, say, bed bugs, which often bite in a zig-zag pattern. They are most often found around the ankles, calves, and feet.
If you suspect that fleas are regularly making you their meal, then your first order of business is to examine your pets. If your pets are restless and are scratching themselves more often than usual, then you need to check them for fleas.
If it turns out that your pet does have fleas, and you’re noticing bites around your legs, then you’re being bitten by fleas!
Fleas bite your ankles because it is generally the easiest bit of open skin for them to reach. They can jump high enough to get there, and often above your socks there’s exposed skin.
Flea bites can be irritating and itchy but are relatively easy to deal with.
If your pet is infected with fleas and is transferring them to you, be sure to use one of the aforementioned treatment methods. You should notice the bites stop after a few days.