Warm summer weather is perfect for spending time in the great outdoors. Most of us know to practice sun safety by staying hydrated and applying sunscreen. However, we sometimes forget to protect ourselves against bugs and insects until a bite has already occurred. Although most bites are relatively harmless, sometimes these little creatures can deliver more trouble than just a pinch on the arm. Be proactive this summer by keeping insect safety at the forefront of your mind.
Most mosquito bites are irritating but otherwise harmless. However, it is important to keep in mind that some mosquitoes can transmit diseases like encephalitis and West Nile virus, which can cause severe illness with symptoms like headache, high fever and bodily weakness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests using bug repellents containing 20 to 30% DEET to avoid bites from mosquitoes and other insects. Repellent is most effective when applied on exposed skin and clothing.
Ticks are another common summer pest. In addition to applying bug repellent, you can avoid tick bites by staying away from wooded or bushy areas. Before spending time outdoors, treat your clothes with permethrin to give yourself an extra layer of protection against ticks. You can also buy pre-treated clothing at many sports and outdoor stores.
After spending time outdoors, it is important to thoroughly inspect yourself for ticks. Tumble dry your clothing on high for 10 minutes to kill any ticks or other pests that may have clung to the fabric. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, which is treatable if recognized early. Initial symptoms can include fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor. Left untreated, more severe symptoms may occur that can last months or years after the bite occurs. Check out our tips below for other ways you can reduce your risk of dangerous insect bites.
Tips for Preventing Bites and Diseases
- Stay away from stagnant water and heavily wooded areas.
- Resist walking barefoot in the grass. Bees can often be on the ground and this will help you avoid being stung.
- Shower after coming indoors.
- Educate your self and others on proper tick removal. Don’t know how to remove a tick?
Sources: CDC. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource