We may have just survived Brood X Cicadas, but there are plenty of other summertime bugs wreaking havoc on backyard barbeques and pool parties. After all, summertime means more time spent outdoors cutting grass, working in the garden or just watching kids play with neighborhood friends (while you catch up with the grown-ups).
More time spent outdoors equals more opportunities for ticks, mosquitoes and other summertime bugs like fleas, chiggers and more, to sneak a bite. Luckily, most bites only result in redness, irritation and itchiness. Some bites, however, can lead to serious diseases–like Lyme Disease or West Nile Virus. Keep yourself, your family and friends safe with these simple tips.
Use bug spray
Bug spray is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from mosquitoes, ticks and other insects. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using an insect repellent with the following ingredients to repel mosquitoes and/or ticks:
- DEET (mosquitoes and ticks)
- Picaridin (mosquitoes and ticks)
- IR3535 (mosquitoes and ticks)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (mosquitoes)
- 2-undecanone (mosquitoes)
Pregnant women and babies can safely use insect repellant with up to 30% DEET. When using bug spray, everyone should remember to:
- Avoid eyes, mouth and open cuts/wounds
- Spray only exposed skin
- Wash hands after applying bug spray (when possible)
- Shower or wash skin thoroughly when finished outdoors
Wear protective clothing
Bug spray isn’t the only way to protect your skin from insect bites. The right clothing can also help reduce your exposure. Next time you’re headed out, make sure you’re covered:
- Wear long pants and long, loose sleeves
- Wear shoes and socks
- Tuck pants into socks to keep bugs off ankles and legs
- Wear a hat
- Use a bandana to cover your neck
- Pull long hair into a ponytail
You may also consider purchasing clothes treated with permethrin, an insecticide that repels ticks and mosquitoes. Permethrin is also available to purchase as a spray for clothes. Studies show that even spraying closed toe shoes can help keep ticks and mosquitoes at bay.
Reduce your risk of mosquito and tick bites in your yard
Bug spray and protective clothing are great ways to keep bugs at bay, but there are also steps you can take around your home. Keep your yard and house bug un-friendly:
- Prevent and remove standing water around your home
- Repair screens and make sure all screens are a proper fit to your windows
- Use air conditioning when possible
- Keep grass and bushes trimmed
- Use an electric fan or citronella candles to keep mosquitoes away when you’re outside
- Use mosquito netting around bedding when camping
Check for ticks and bites
Even the most diligent can wind up with a tick or mosquito bite. Fortunately, the risk of serious illness decreases when ticks are removed shortly after exposure and insect bites are carefully monitored.
Do a thorough check of kids, adults and pets after spending time outdoors, including clothing and shoes. You should also carefully check the body for signs of ticks, including behind the ears, knees, in skin folds and around the genitals.
If you do find a tick, use these steps to safely remove it:
- Use fine-tipped, pointy tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible
- Pull straight up with steady, even pressure
- Clean the tick bite with rubbing alcohol or warm, soapy water
- Drop the tick in alcohol, wrap it tightly with tape or flush it down the toilet
If you or a loved one develop a fever or rash within a few weeks of removing the tick, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider. It may be a sign of a tick-borne illness.
Enjoy the summer
Even with creepy-crawlies and potential for injuries, summertime is–and should be–a fun and carefree time. Next time you plan another fun summer outing, spend a few minutes making sure you have first aid basics
covered. It can go a long way for your own peace of mind and your friends’ and family's safety and wellbeing.
Did you know? Another great way to protect your family from anything that life brings your way is by having a great relationship with a primary care expert. Schedule an appointment online today.