Preventing Bug Bites
Bugs can spread diseases that cannot be prevented with vaccines or medications. If you are planning on spending time outdoors this summer there are some things you should know about protecting yourself from bug bites.
Wearing insect repellent that has at least 20% DEET will protect you against mosquitos, ticks and other bugs. However, it has been shown that DEET concentrations above 50% do not provide further benefit. Other repellants such as picaridin, lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 protect against mosquitos, but may not work as well for ticks or other bugs. If you are using a repellent you should take the following precautions:
- Never apply over any cuts, wounds or irritated skin
- Avoid spraying directly on face (spray hands first and then apply)
- Avoid inhaling any of the smoke or spray
- Do not apply to eyes or mouth, and apply small amounts around the ears
- Wash your hands after applying
- Use just enough to cover your skin or clothing (extra doesn’t mean better!)
- Children should not apply on their own, instead adults should spray their hands first, before applying to the child’s skin
- After returning indoors, wash your skin with soap and water
If you plan on using sunscreen, apply it first, let dry, and then add repellant. You should avoid using repellants that contain both sunscreens and repellant as this may decrease the effectiveness of the sunscreen component.
Wear Long Sleeves and Pants
Making sure that you are wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and a hat are all great ways to avoid bites. You can tuck your shirt into your pants, and your pants into your socks.
Use Permethrin-Treated Gear/Clothing
Gear and clothing treated with permethrin will provide you with added protection. You can buy pre-treated gear and clothing or treat your own. Pre-treated clothing will still work for up to 70 washes! Permethrin should not be applied directly to skin.
Checking for Ticks
After returning indoors it is important to check your clothes and skin for ticks. If you find one on your skin, there’s no need to panic! You can remove it by following these steps:
- Use tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure
- After removing you should clean the area with either rubbing alcohol or soap and water
- Dispose of the tick by placing it in either alcohol, taped bag/container, or flush it down the toilet. Never crush the tick with your fingers!
- If you develop a fever or rash within several weeks of removing the tick, contact your health care provider
For more information, see the sources below: