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Human Flea (Pulex irritans)

Human Flea (Pulex irritans)

Though rare, fleas may live on humans. Here is a brief overview about human fleas, named Pulex irritans.
Sonia Nair
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
There are different types of fleas that are found across the globe. These wingless blood sucking parasites are usually found on mammals and birds. However, there is one flea species (Pulex irritans) that lives on humans. Apart from humans, these fleas are also found on dogs, monkeys, opossums, pigs, rats, and many other species. Human fleas are commonly found on pigs, and they breed profusely in pigsties. So, those who are working in pigsties and farms are mostly found to be affected by these fleas.

These fleas live in human hair, but it does not mean that their bites will be concentrated on the head. Apart from human fleas, other types, like cat and dog fleas can also bite humans. However, they do not live on humans. Nowadays, human fleas are very rare, and humans are more exposed to bites caused by other fleas.

Human Fleas in Hair

These fleas are now rarely seen in domesticated areas, and human flea bites commonly refers to the bites inflicted by other types of fleas. Human fleas or Pulex irritans are usually brown or black in color. The human flea is around one to four millimeters in length, and possess very few mouth bristles, as compared to other fleas. Unlike dog and cat fleas that usually bite on legs, human flea bites can be found anywhere on the body; and are associated with symptoms, like itching, discomfort, and dark red spots. Some people may develop severe symptoms, like skin rash and hives, and may even develop blisters. While other fleas do not live on the human body, Pulex irritans is a flea species that live on humans.


If human fleas are found to breed profusely in hair, you should not use anti-flea medication meant for dogs or cats. In order to eliminate Pulex irritans, take a hot water bath in a bathtub. Add one cup of lemon extract and a small amount of dish detergent to this water. This solution can kill the adult fleas as well as their larvae. Let your body soak in the water for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, apply the shampoo and leave it on the hair. Scrub your skin, so as to remove the fleas. Concentrate on areas in between the toes, nape of the neck, and around the ears. Rinse off the shampoo and leave the tub. After getting out of the tub, fill a bowl with soap solution; and comb your hair from the roots to the tips with a wide-toothed comb, so that the fleas fall into the solution. In order to fully eliminate fleas in hair, you have to repeat the procedure at least twice a week.

Some people use baking soda for removing fleas in hair. For this purpose, one teaspoon of baking soda is mixed with warm water, and the solution is sprayed on the hair. Make sure to avoid contact of this solution with the eyes. Leave it on the hair for 15 minutes. After that, rinse it off thoroughly. You can extract the dead fleas and eggs from the hair with a wide tooth comb.

In case of flea bites on humans, you have to clean the area with an antiseptic soap, and apply a cold pack to alleviate the itching and discomfort. You may also apply calamine lotion or 1% hydrocortisone cream on the affected area. In case of severe discomfort and itching, consult your health care provider, who may prescribe some antihistamine for you. If the symptoms do not subside within a few days, seek medical attention. However, refrain from scratching the area, as it may lead to secondary infections. Eliminate these parasites from the home and the premises. Regularly vacuum the house, and adopt flea control measures, if there is an infestation.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.