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Classification and external resources
Flea bites on the back of a human
ICD-10 W57
ICD-9 919.4

Pulicosis (also known as "flea bites") is a skin condition caused by several species of fleas, including the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis). This condition can manifest itself after only a single flea bite. The bite(s) may not even be noticed. Within minutes of being bitten, skin irritation begins. This can range from extremely mild irritation to severe irritation. After 48 to 72 hours, a more severe rash-like irritation may begin to spread across the body. Symptoms include swelling of the bitten area, erythema, ulcers of the mouth and throat, restlessness, and soreness of the areolae. If these symptoms appear, seek immediate medical attention. In extreme cases, within 1 week after being bitten, the condition may spread through the lymph nodes and begin affecting the central nervous system. Permanent nerve damage can occur.[1]:450

If they receive an excessive number of bites, pets can also develop flea-bite dermatitis, which can potentially be fatal if no actions are taken. However, dogs and cats are not the only ones that are at risk. Humans can suffer from flea bites[2] and, depending on a variety of factors, the bites can cause much pain and discomfort. While there are a number of treatments available, it's very important to resist the urge to scratch the bites because this can make the condition worse, sometimes even causing a serious infection. Various over-the-counter medications, including anti-scratch cream, can be very effective.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James, William D.; Berger, Timothy G.; et al. (2006). Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. Saunders Elsevier. ISBN 0-7216-2921-0. 
  2. ^ Flea Bite Research Source. Anderson, Natasha. The Bug Squad (2010).