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Protect Your Family From Bug Bites

You’re enjoying your fire pit on a beautiful summer evening. But then you hear a buzzing around your head. A small mosquito lands on your arm and you’re too slow to swat it away. Although the resulting bump may get itchy, unfortunately, bug bites could lead to more serious issues.

Bugs, including mosquitoes, ticks, and some flies, can spread diseases like Zika, dengue, and Lyme disease. Unfortunately, many of these cannot be prevented or treated with a vaccine or medicine. But you can reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites.

  • Avoid outdoor activities during dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active
  • Avoid playing in or around standing puddles of water or flowerbeds
  • Wear thin, long sleeved shirts and long pants to minimize skin exposure

What Kind of Bug Spray Should I Use?

Generally, bug spray is okay to use. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET.

However, follow these instructions for applying repellent on children:

  • Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children younger than 3 years old.
  • Children should not touch repellent. Adults should apply it to their hands and gently spread it over the child’s exposed skin.
  • Do not apply repellent to children’s hands because they tend to put their hands in their mouths.

Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Additionally, children should never apply it on their own. When applying insect repellent to your child’s face, spray it into your hands, and then rub it onto your child’s face. Make sure to avoid their mouth and eyes. Lastly, never use repellents on cuts, wounds or irritated skin.

Beware the Ticks

When children play in a wooded area, they should wear protective clothing like long sleeves to avoid ticks. Bug spray helps, too, but with ticks, clothing is the best defense. Although they don’t cause the bug bites we all think of, they have become more prevalent in the Northwest Suburbs.

A government study recently stated that to prepare for summer protection from ticks, wear clothes pretreated with permethrin. Permethrim is a synthetic form of an insect-thwarting compound from the chrysanthemum flower. You can find it in insecticide sprays and shampoos and creams that treat lice and scabies.

Doctors worry about ticks because they can cause illness, like Lyme disease. Parents should check kids’ heads and bodies to look for ticks. Remove a tick with a tweezers. Lastly, if you need assurance that your children are safe, some doctors’ offices can test the bug.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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