Okay, this is not exactly Ladies Home Journal or Martha Stewart's Whole Living, but I have recently been dealing with a small matter of fleas on Max. I had been wondering why I would occasionally have a few inexplicable bites that itched madly but were apparently inflicted by invisible bugs.
I have googled itchy bites, invisible bugs, mites, whatever word or combination of words I thought might explain these occasional fleets of itchy bites. Some of them I could tell were mosquito bites, which have (at least on me) a distinctive whitish bump that itches. Others, however, were tiny, in very odd places, and only distinguished by a small raised red bumpito that itched madly.
Until Max's recent trip to the vet for his leukemia booster, I had not thought they could possibly be fleas, as I have never seen a flea on him or any of the other cats, nor in the bedding or favorite spots where he lies. The other two cats had been declared free of fleas earlier this month, but Max turned up with a few fleas.
Aha! Googling flea bites produced images that were clearly the same as my bites, so we are taking steps to eradicate the critters. Which brings me to something useful I discovered long ago when I was trying to deal with itchy bites.
The People's Pharmacy is a newspaper column that is a kind of clearing house for both natural and allopathic health remedies. People will write in about a bar of soap curing their night time leg cramps or the evils of various drugs, Vicks for fungus-y toenails, that sort of thing. And one day, somebody mentioned heat as a temporary cure for itchy bites.
I jumped on this one, because no over the counter product, even antihistamines, had done anything to make the itch go away, and I did some experimenting. There were some fairly inconvenient ways of applying heat, like with a hair dryer, and it would be easy to get burned if it got too hot. But it needed to be pretty high heat in order to quell the itch, not just make it itchier.
Here's what I do. I keep an old stainless steel teaspoon in the bathroom and when I need to stop an itch, I turn the hot water on, let it run till it's so hot I can barely stand it, then stick the spoon into the running water for a few seconds. Then I apply the back side of the spoon directly to the itchy bite and hold it there while the itch flares up briefly and then dies away. This works like a charm and eradicates the itch for me for several hours. If the bite is on my back, I use a few seconds of very hot shower water. But the effect is the same.
So I may have fleas temporarily, but I can deal with the itch. I hope this public service announcement has been helpful.