How to Prevent Bug Bites
It’s that time of year… time for bugs to reemerge. Our friends the mosquitoes will start to visit. The ticks will reappear. Preventing mosquito bites to ward off the chance of West Nile Virus and tick bites to avoid the risk of Lyme disease is worth the hassle! Here’s some information to help prevent bug bites and some information on how to properly remove a tick.
How to not make friends with bugs
First of all, don’t try to attract bugs to you. Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes, or hair sprays on your child. Don’t dress your children in bright colors or in prints with flowers. Try to eliminate standing pools of water in your yard (get rid of bird baths and dump out buckets that are not in use). Make sure that window screens are well fitted and repair any holes in screens.
How to choose your insect repellent
It’s difficult to choose the right insect repellent since there are many forms including aerosols, sprays, liquids, and creams. Some repell bugs with chemicals and others use natural ingredients. It’s also important to remember that repellents prevent biting insects from biting but not stinging insects from stinging!!
The most effective repellents contain DEET (a chemical). Repellents used on kids should not contain more than 30 percent DEET. Products with a higher DEET concentration protect kids longer (10% DEET will repel pests for 2 hours and 30% DEET will last about 5 hours). Another type of insect repellent is Permethrin. Permethrin can kill ticks on contact but should not be applied to skin, it should only used on clothing. Do not use insect repellent on infants younger than 2 months old.
Some repellents are made from essential oils found in plants such as citronella, cedar, eucalyptus, and soybean. These products usually last less than 2 hours and are much less effective than DEET containing products. More studies need to be done to see how well these products repel ticks, if at all. Children may also have allergic reactions or skin irritation from these products.
Repellents are best applied to the outside of your child’s clothing and to exposed skin. Spray repellents in open areas so no one breathes them in. Never spray insect repellent directly on your child’s face. Spray a small amount on your hands and then rub it on your child’s face. Make sure to avoid the eyes and mouth.
Do not use products that combine DEET with sunscreen. The DEET may make the SPF of the sunscreen less effective. Combination products can overexpose your child to DEET because the sunscreen has to be reapplied more often.
Take a Bath Every Night!
Wash your child’s skin with soap and water to remove any repellent when they return indoors, wash their clothing before they wear it again.
What Do I Do If I find a Tick on my Child’s skin??
First of all…don’t panic. There are all kinds of ticks (see the chart below).
Deer ticks are one of the insects that spread Lyme disease.
It is important to remove the tick with tweezers (see image below). Covering the tick with petroleum jelly, nail polish, or rubbing alcohol does not work. Neither does touching the tick with a hot or cold object.
In order for a tick to transmit Lyme disease, it needs to be attached for 12 hours or more (at least!). The tick will appear engorged when you remove it. If you find a tick soon after a hike through the woods or coming in from the backyard and remove it, you needn’t worry. Looking for ticks every night is a good plan!
Hope this helps you and your family stay away from harmful bugs this summer! Enjoy!