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Protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes, ticks and other biting bugs

Sarah Pagenkopf, PharmD, BCPS Sarah Pagenkopf, PharmD, BCPS June 16, 2017 0 Comments Family Medicine

It’s that time of year again, the weather warm, we are wearing those shorts and warmer weather gear. If your plans include taking an evening walk, riding a bike or even planning a fun trip to the beach, here are a few things we all can do to avoid illness that might be carried by mosquitoes or ticks.

A few general “rules” to consider from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  1. If you plan to travel, know the risk for illness due to mosquitoes or ticks in that area and come prepared with the right repellent products. Or if you plan to travel internationally, contact your doctor’s office - you might need to consider some additional vaccinations or medications in your travel plans.
  2. Know when and where the bugs like to come out to party!
    Usually biting bugs like mosquitoes are more common at twilight (dawn or dusk). Consider scheduling your activities when the bugs aren’t out, or arrive prepared with bug repellent. Don’t let the bugs ruin your fireworks, bring along your bug spray.

    While ticks can be a problem throughout the day, they are more prone to be in special areas. Ticks like grasses, woodlands and vegetated areas. Try to stay out of those areas when possible, or protect yourself by modifying the clothing you wear…

  3. Wear appropriate clothing. If you know you can’t avoid the places and times that biting bugs might be planning to ruin your day, consider modifying your clothing choices. Wear long-sleeves, long pants, boots and a hat. Consider tucking your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks and wear closed toed shoes to reduce your risk of being bitten. (Mosquito bites on your feet are the worst!)
  4. Check for ticks. At the end of a day of summer fun, check your clothing and body for ticks. Remove ticks promptly if you notice them on your skin. The CDC notes, that showering within 2 hours of being in a tick-infested area can reduce the risk contracting illnesses that ticks might carry.
  5. Use insecticides and repellents. Consumer Reports provided the following ratings for what they found to be the most effective insect repellents for biting bugs.

    In a report, 2,000 adults said they don’t read the ingredients on insect repellent labels before they buy them, but Consumer Reports warns that the active ingredient and concentration matters when comparing effectiveness and safety.

  • DEET: More is not always better with this agent. Consumer Reports showed that concentrations as low as 15-30 percent provided long-lasting protection against both mosquitoes and ticks. Higher concentrations might pose risks, like rash or even disorientation.
    • Contact your Pediatrician before using DEET on children or babies.
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus, products that contained 30 percent of lemon eucalyptus did well in Consumer Reports testing in stopping biting bugs for even up to seven hours! This product is naturally occurring, extracted from the gum of the eucalyptus tree.
    • Contact your Pediatrician before using Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus on children or babies.
  • Picaridin is a synthetic compound, modeled after black pepper plants. Twenty (20) percent Picardin was a top performer in the Consumer Reports testing. Most important to remember the concentration matters! The 20 percent concentration was the top performer, and the five percent was the bottom performer! Picaridin can cause some skin irritation as well, so use caution.
    • Contact your Pediatrician before using Picaridin on children or babies

 

To learn more from consumer reports follow this link to the full article: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/insect-repellent/buying-guide