Where do fleas bite humans?

where do fleas bite humans most often

Michael Voelker

Img 1 Cat flea bites on a person’s ankles and feet.

Summary

Fleas bite humans on their feet, ankles, calves, and lower legs. Bites rarely occur above the knees unless a person is sitting or laying on the ground.

Details

Fleas Bites & Humans

Fleas occasionally bite people living in the same habitat as an infested animal. Bites on humans are incidental, occurring when the primary host, a cat or dog, is unavailable. In homes, fleas develop in carpeting. After exiting their cocoons, new adults may bite people before finding their preferred host.

Where Fleas Bite Humans

Common: Ankles and Feet

Fleas can take a blood meal anywhere on the human body. However, cat fleas only jump to an average height of 5.2 inches (7.9 inches max). This is well below the knee of a human Img 2. Once on human skin, fleas feed promptly without much movement or wandering. As a result, flea bites on humans typically occur on the feet, ankles, calves, and lower legs.

fleas jump to the ankles

WithMe Photography

Img 2 Cat fleas can jump up to 8 inches in the air.

Fleas can’t bite through clothes. They’ll move beneath clothing, where they can remain hidden while feeding on exposed skin. Wearing socks and pants can help deter bites, but fleas often have access to exposed skin above the sock line. Tucking the pant’s legs into the socks blocks access to skin and stops bites Img 3.

tucking pant legs into socks

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Img 3 Flea bites can’t bite through clothes. Pants can be tucked into socks to stop bites.

Uncommon: Above the Knees

In normal circumstances, it’s unlikely for fleas to reach a person’s head, waist, pubic area, or even upper legs. These areas are simply too far from the ground. However, bites sometimes do occur higher up on the body. For example, if a person sits on the floor, then fleas will have easy access to the upper legs and waist. Bites may also occur on the wrists.

Rare: Head

Flea bites on the neck may occur in severe infestations. However, it’s very rare for fleas to bite a person’s scalp or face. Sleeping on the floor, or sharing a bed with an infested pet, can result in bites near the head.

Fleas Leave After Feeding

Cat fleas permanently remain on dogs and cats after jumping on them. However, when fleas bite people, they’ll feed and then leave. On man, their only purpose is to consume a blood meal. They’ll often bite two to three times before going.

Sometimes, if they’re disturbed while feeding, fleas will hide in clothes for short periods of time. If they can’t find a way to leave, they may remain within the seams of clothing for a couple days, periodically feeding. Generally though, humans are poor hosts for fleas because we lack body hair.

References

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Discussion

  • sugar lane July 9, 2016, 3:26 am

    I have an influx of fleas after one cat (a house cat) caught it from my outdoor cat and spread it to him and he in turn spread it around the house on people who moved around the house too!

    Even though both cats have been defleaed, i am still anxious about letting either of the cats entering the house after i have had to deal with these disgusting bugs for weeks now and spending so much money on flea killer and i do believe that they can bite through certain thin clothing and socks as they have tiny holes in the material.

    • Adam Retzer July 11, 2016, 8:15 pm

      There will be immature fleas developing in carpeting for up to 8 weeks. This is why flea drops (and other treatments) are instructed to be used for 3 to 4 months, to ensure that all the fleas are extinct within the home. If treatments are stopped early, then these immature fleas can develop into adults and jump on pets, feed, mate, and lay eggs, and the problem can start all over again.

  • Sue October 11, 2016, 10:48 pm

    Hi there,

    I just moved into a new flat and detected a flea infestation after 2 weeks as the previous owner was looking after someone’s cat just before they moved out. It took 2 weeks to realise what was biting me and let me tell you I have bites on my neck, back AND upper tighs!! – when the pest control arrived they found fleas all over my bed. My problem: They sprayed a genetic material & said not to vacuum for a few days. I did after 8 days and am now beginning to find 1-2 bites each day. I know they cant really live off me successfully but I react very badly to the bites – What would you advise me to do? Thanks!

    • Adam Retzer October 17, 2016, 4:29 pm

      It makes sense that you’ve been bitten higher up on your body if fleas were in your bed.

      It’s strange that fleas were all over your bed. It sounds more like the behavior of bed bugs. Do you have pets? Fleas rarely get onto a bed unless a pet is sleeping there. Sometimes they can jump onto bed sheets that are hanging low to the ground, and then crawl further into the bed. This can be prevented by tucking in the sheets.

      It sounds like you’ve taken all the correct procedures. I’d assume the genetic material they sprayed was an insect growth regulator (IGR), which is the best way to deal with immature fleas in the environment and will last for 7 months. Continue vacuuming regularly (a few times a week). It would also be a good idea to launder bedding and rugs weekly.

      It often takes around 8 weeks for the fleas to be completely eliminated. Their numbers should continue to diminish as times goes on.

  • joseph May 8, 2017, 4:57 am

    What is the best way cure human flea bites.Is there any flea treatments. Is this due to weather change?

    • Adam Retzer May 8, 2017, 2:04 pm

      There’s no way to cure flea bites, but can you help reduce the itching with hydrocortisone cream or other anti-itching lotions. Flea bites usually heal within 3-4 days.

      Yes, the change of the seasons affects flea numbers. Flea populations start growing in April, peaking in September/October. Then December through March they are at their lowest numbers due to the cold weather.

  • Kaitlin September 24, 2017, 9:10 pm

    I have flea bites all over my legs, two friends of mine have them and I think I brought them home. I don’t allow cats in my room and the cats I have show no signs of fleas(dirt, eggs, fleas )yet every morning when I wake up I have a few more bites. I figured they’d die after a week.

    • Adam Retzer September 29, 2017, 12:50 pm

      Are you certain they are fleas and not bed bugs? If you can positively identify them as fleas (flea traps are useful for this), then it may be a good idea to start employing some control procedures, even if the infestation is mild. For example, vacuuming more regularly. Check out our page on How to get rid of fleas for more control information.

  • flea bed bug November 15, 2017, 2:29 am

    Hallo,
    I have bites on my legs, hands (most upper hands), waist,…
    I did not find any bed bug or flea in my house.
    What the hell can it be? I will be crasy from it.
    Some people says ist bed bug, because flea is bitting just legs and ist not in bed. Some people tells ist flea because bed bugs are bitting just on not covered areas.
    I have new bites after night, but I feel time to time bites during the day.
    PLEASE help me.

    • Adam Retzer November 15, 2017, 12:38 pm

      It’s difficult to know what you are dealing with unless you find an actual specimen. Flea traps are useful for this. However, if you don’t have pets it probably isn’t fleas, and bed bugs would be the more likely culprit. There are also other possible pests you could be dealing with (e.g. kissing bugs). It may be a good idea to hire a pest control specialist to come take a look in person, so they can identify the pest and offer control services.

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