Flea Bites in Kids

Flea bites are a common problem in children and is often the reason for a paediatric visit as parents think this is the start of a ‘rash’. Flea bites commonly occur in little groups together as the flea crawl on the skin and continue biting. It is often on the exposed skin of the legs, but also around the middle where clothes constrict. In the middle of the bite there is a little hole where the flea has penetrated the skin. This little hole will be surrounded by a pink-red weal up to the size of 2cm and can be surrounded by a red halo. The flea inject an anti-coagulant into the site to prevent the blood from clotting and it is this substance that causes an ‘allergic’ reaction in the child. There can even be a little water blister centrally.

Flea bites itches tremendously and children cannot help scratching. This lead to a whole set of new problems as they often causes secondary infection of the bites. This then can lead to an infective skin condition called impetigo that may need systemic antibiotics.

Flea bites are one of those conditions where prevention is better than cure. De-flea your pets on a regular basis. This rule counts for both inside and outside pets. Furniture, carpets and upholstery are the breeding grounds for fleas and need to be vacuumed on a frequent basis. If the problem is out of control a pest control agency’s help needs to be called in.

When the child is bitten, wash the area with cold water and soap as warm water will enhance the itching. Put cold compresses on (ice packs in a dish towel). Calamine, Aloe vera and tee tree oil containing creams can bring some relief. If the itching is really very bad an over the counter cortisone containing cream may help.

When the bites are infected apply an antibiotic cream like Bactroban, but if the infection becomes out of hand it is important to consult a doctor for a systemic antibiotic and cream.