Pulicosis Symptoms and Treatment


Pulicosis is a skin condition that occurs from flea bites.

Pulicosis is the medical term for skin inflammation caused by a flea bite. Not to be confused with flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), symptoms of pulicosis are strictly related to the skin. To learn more about this condition and its symptoms, keep reading.

Contrary to what some people may believe, pulicosis can manifest itself from just a single flea bite. When the flea bites into a host’s skin, it withdraws blood while simultaneously releasing a small amount of saliva. This saliva often triggers certain ‘reactions’ by the host, including pulicosis and FAD.

Both the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) are known to cause pulicosis in hosts.

Immediate Symptoms of Pulicosis

Within minutes of being bitten, the host will begin to develop a slight burning, itching sensation around the affected area. The severity of this sensation can range from mild to unbearable depending on the host’s reaction.

If you develop itching and/or burning after being bitten by a flea, apply a small amount of hydrocortisone cream to the affected area. This will ease some of the itching, which in turn reduces the risk of infection (scratching a flea bite can open the would, leaving it susceptible to infection). You can also apply an ice cube to the bite for 1-2 minutes. The cool sensation will numb the area, reducing pain, itching and inflammation.

Pulicosis Symptoms 24-48 Hours After Bite

1-2 days after the flea bite, more severe symptoms of pulicosis typically begin to set in. These symptoms may include the following:

  • Red rash spreading across the skin.
  • Formation of ulcers in the mouth.
  • Soreness of the nipples.
  • Inflammation around the bite  area.
  • Redness of the skin/mucus membrane (known medically as Erythema).
  • Restlessness.
Erythema on the lower back.

Erythema on the lower back.

Should I Seek Medical Treatment For Pulicosis?

It really depends on how your body reacts to the condition. In most cases, pulicosis will subside while only manifesting mild itching, burning and inflammation. However, severe cases may include the symptoms listed above. If you experience one or more of the previously mentioned symptoms after being bitten by a flea, seek medical attention immediately. Pulicosis can spread through the lymph nodes and cause permanent damage to the central nervous system if left untreated.

Have you experienced pulicosis from a flea bite? Let us know what worked for you in the comments section below!