Protecting Your Skin Against Bug Bites and Infections

Protecting Your Skin Against Bug Bites and Infections

Most of the time, when you find a bug in your house, you get rid of it. Whether the means extinguishing it or finding more humane methods for its disposal, most of the time it does not end up becoming a new roommate. And this seems completely understandable. After all, they are on your territory and you have the final word on what and who comes and goes. This begs the question: What are the rules when we go on their turf? What is permissible behavior for a bug when a human enters their domain? Do they have the right to bite us? The question is debatable, but the answer really does not matter. It all comes down to this: infringe on a bug’s territory and you can expect to be bitten. However, you can significantly reduce the risk.

Prevention of Bug Bites

Use Insect Repellant
Disease spreading bugs, such as ticks, mosquitoes and flies, are most commonly repelled with the use of insect repellants. The safest ones of these are registered by the EPA and include a minimum of 20% DEET. Treatments such as Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para menthane-diol (PMD), IR3535, and 2-undecanone protect against mosquitos, but may not be as effective against other bugs.

If you choose to use natural repellents, keep in mind that their effectiveness has not been registered with the EPA.

Usually directions for application of the product will be listed on the package, but here are some guidelines for general usage:

  • Higher percentages of the active ingredient will provide longer duration of protection. However, increases in protection time will reach a maximum at approximately 50% DEET.
  • If you are using the repellant in combination with sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first and allow it to dry before applying the repellent. Avoid products claiming to contain both repellant and sunscreen.
  • Don’t spray insect repellent under clothing. Permethrin treated clothing and gear is available. Clothing can be bought pretreated or you may treat them yourself. Avoid skin contact with permethrin.

Cover Exposed Skin
Try and wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks, and a hat. Cover as much skin as possible by making sure your shirt is tucked into your pants, and tuck your pants into your socks for stronger protection. Be warned, taking these precautions will not protect against the tsetse fly, which can bite through thin fabrics.

Avoid Bugs In Travel Locations
If you are traveling, choose air-conditioned accommodations or hotel rooms with sturdy window and door screens to keep bugs from entering. If you feel there is a chance that bugs will invade your sleeping area, sleep under a bed net treated with permethrin and tucked under the mattress. When outside, use area repellents, like mosquito coils, that contain allethrin or metofluthrin.

Child itching

Repellent Use On Children
If you are accompanied by little ones, here are some instructions for repellant application:

  • Don’t use repellants on children under three months.
  • Don’t use anything containing PMD or OLE on children younger that three.
  • Do not allow children to touch the repellant. Adults are advised to apply the product to their hands and spread it over the child’s skin.
  • Don’t allow repellant to get on children’s hands; the next step is the mouth.
  • Keep repellant out of children’s reach.
  • Babies under the age of two months can be protecting by draping mosquito nets over their car seats and carriers. Make sure they have an elastic edging for a tight fit.

Pregnant Women
Because infections, such as Zika, can spread to the fetus of a pregnant woman it is very important that she take necessary steps to avoid mosquito bites, The CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid areas known to have common outbreaks of the Zika Virus.

How are you preventing bug bites this year? Let us know your favorite methods and how you feel about using them.

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