Shoo flea, don't bother me...
November 13, 2008 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Fleas! But different... I'm not intending to kill any fleas, I just want to get them to stop biting me and/or make the bites stop itching!

Fleas LOVE me. They find me and bite me all the time, and I'm pretty allergic to the bites... which can become huge itchy bumps lasting weeks, and scars because I eventually break the skin, if not on purpose, in my sleep.
I live in Chile. There are fleas all over the place in the city (stray animals, public transportation, etc...) but I feel treating my house (As shortened reasoning, we have no animals, I have never seen a flea in the house, and nobody else seems to think we have a problem in the house) will not help. I also dont feel they stay/live on me or my clothes. Kind of like hit and run bites... er bite and hop away.

My general doctors in the US had not quite understood and wanted to prevent by housecleansing rather than treat the bites.

A specialist/dermatologist I went to here was useless. The general concept here is that you need to clean stuff and the problem will go away, which does not seem to by my case. (Ex: SO and I share a bed and he veeery rarely gets bites) The dermatologist I was prescribed an expensive bottle of something labeled "Dry skin lotion" that didn't help.

I'm wondering
a) Is there a way to make my skin or body less attractive to the fleas? They somehow prefer me (foreigner, perhaps different body temperature) and at times I have dozens of bites in one area. I always have bites within hours of reentering the country. I'd prefer not to smell like a chemical though.

b) how do I stop bites from itching?!?!
Bites are horribly aggravating and my relief attempts are always short term, though the bite stays for about 2 weeks. I've tried benedryl, cort-aid, a type of vaporrub type gel, lotion, scratching, and even breaking the skin... which is the only slight relief I get.
posted by nzydarkxj to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I was in Brazil, I was the target of mosquitoes, day in and day out, more so than the rest of my family. My grandmother gave me some baby oil to rub all over my skin and it seemed to be fairly effective at keeping the mosquitoes at bay. I'm not sure if it will have much of an effect on fleas, but you could give it a try.
posted by nikkorizz at 8:17 AM on November 13, 2008

Best answer: Avon's Skin-So-Soft bath oil has long been heralded as a mosquito and flea repellent.
posted by kimdog at 8:24 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

In a recent Frontline show about US troops in Afghanistan, their base was infested with fleas and they wore flea collars through the back loops of their pants like a small belt.
posted by sharkfu at 8:54 AM on November 13, 2008

Garlic. Eat lots and lots of garlic. Fleas hate the smell and taste (which, if you manage to eat a few cloves at least, daily, will come out through your sweat--you might even notice a change in your smell!)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:20 AM on November 13, 2008

Are you positive it's fleas? Have you actually seen the fleas?
Just wondering, because if it were fleas, I would expect your SO to have at least a few bites.
posted by nprigoda at 9:23 AM on November 13, 2008

Best answer: Camomile lotion to relieve the itching.
posted by mandal at 9:30 AM on November 13, 2008

if you're truly allergic to the bites, Cortisone cream might help take down the inflammation.
posted by JimmyJames at 9:40 AM on November 13, 2008

Are you positive it's fleas? Have you actually seen the fleas?
Just wondering, because if it were fleas, I would expect your SO to have at least a few bites.

Some people don't react at all to flea bites, or the fleas aren't attracted to them. I've lived in flea infested places (Oh, Florida!) and had nary a bite while my roommate was chewed to pieces. Weirdly, mosquitoes love me. Go figure.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:50 AM on November 13, 2008

Response by poster: Hmm, I would be up for trying baby and bath oil and camomile. I have tried cortisone cream but it seems to provide very momentary relief. I'm hoping to first prevent bites if possible, but I may be stubborn but Im not sure that I literally want to wear flea collars haha. We'll see...

And garlic... hmm, a change in my smell means different or LIKE garlic? That might not be pleasant. But if it were to work, seems like a pretty reasonable and cheap fix.

and yeah, nprigoda... it sounds illogical but they seriously just don't bite him. That I remember, he's had around 10 bites (at least that he felt or had itching from).. I'm somewhere into the thousands for sure.
I rarely but occasionally have seen the fleas...usually when I've been on public transportation. Also, they're common and other people have seen the bites and confirmed I seem to just be really allergic, (including the dermatologist)
posted by nzydarkxj at 11:17 AM on November 13, 2008

If you're eating a ton of garlic, you might smell garlicky. There are worse smells (it's not BO), but you won't smell like you're eating anything but pineapples or anything.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:33 AM on November 13, 2008

Nothing but pineapples, rather.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:33 AM on November 13, 2008

ew. fleas.

for itching relief, try benadryl gel. it's a lifesaver when i have a really bad hives break out. kills the itch just long enough for you to forget you're itchy and continue on with your life. i'd apply maybe 3-4 times a day, over almost my entire body (yes, snipey mefites, i KNOW it's not indicated for full body usage).
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:48 AM on November 13, 2008

Best answer: Try taking a lot of vitamin B. My mother told me one time that being attractive to biting insects often meant your B levels were down. I've noticed myself that there will be certain summers where I'll get bitten a lot and then I'll make it through the next year with barely a bite and I have decided (with my vast art major's store of medical training) to chalk this phenomenon up to varying levels of vitamin B. I'm not sure if, in this case, you're making yourself taste or smell worse so the fleas don't like you or taking down your allergy a notch, but, either way, it's worth a try. You could try brewer's yeast in your food for the same kind of thing - people recommend it for dogs, although it never did much for mine. Or, short term fix, what about just slathering your ankles and legs in insect repellent every time you leave the house?
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:12 PM on November 13, 2008

If you DO take Vitamin B, watch out for getting crazy dreams (search askme, it's true).
posted by yoHighness at 2:19 PM on November 13, 2008

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