One of the best things about summer is enjoying time outside with your family. Warm weather and long days provide plenty of opportunities for playing, hiking, going on picnics or bike rides, and exploring. The season also brings plenty of bugs. Some of the most prevalent are ticks and mosquitoes. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put together some helpful tips for preventing and treating bites from these insects.
- Wear protective clothing. Hats, long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and socks are a good idea. Tucking pants into socks offers even more protection. Hair should be covered. Long hair should not be worn loose.
- Ticks like humid environments, so avoid wooded areas, and even areas with higher amounts of shrubs, plant litter, and tall grass. Walk in the center of trails. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so limit outdoor activity at these times.
- Always apply insect repellent before going outside. The CDC recommends various repellents for ticks and mosquitoes and provides a list of every registered repellent brand in the U.S. There are safe and effective repellents for every budget, age, and preference.
- Any mosquito bites should be treated promptly.
- Tick bites are not as immediately apparent as mosquito bites. To prevent them:
- Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for one hour soon after coming inside. This should kill any ticks left on clothing.
- Shower or bathe within two hours of coming inside. This will help to remove any ticks remaining on the body and is a good chance to perform a full-body tick check. Pay special attention to hair, under arms, belly button, behind the knees, around the waist, the groin area, and in and around ears.
- Check pets and any gear as well. Ticks can enter the house on animals or equipment, then attach themselves to people later.
After a Bite
- Mosquito bites can be itchy, but will go away in time. Try to avoid scratching. For itch relief, use hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. An ice or cold pack might also help.
- Mosquitoes can pass on West Nile virus, which has a variety of symptoms. If you think you have been infected with West Nile virus, see a healthcare professional.
- If you find an attached tick, remove it as soon as possible. Grasp it with tweezers, getting as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out. Clean the bites and your hands with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or an iodine scrub.
- In the weeks following a tick bite, watch for signs of illness like a rash or fever. See a healthcare professional if they develop. Knowing information like when the tick bit you, where you live or picked up the tick, and how long the tick was attached may be helpful.
Enjoy the outdoors this summer, and watch this blog for more ways to stay healthy and happy!