Summer’s winding down, which means it will soon be cool enough to comfortably enjoy the outdoors. However, it also means that the camping trips and evenings on the patio we’ve been looking forward to all summer will be plagued by mosquitoes. Bites from mosquitoes and other bugs don’t just cause discomfort; they can induce serious allergic reactions and spread diseases like West Nile Virus and Lyme’s Disease. Know how to keep the pests away before going outdoors with these tips:
Use insect repellent correctly. Most insect repellents contain a chemical called DEET that can harmfully affect neural pathways, so it’s important to use it correctly. Don’t use products that contain more than 50% DEET. Don’t use products with more than 10% DEET on children, and don’t use it at all on infants. In all cases, wash it off your skin thoroughly once you’re back indoors. It’s better to apply it to your clothes instead of your skin in the first place, although DEET can dissolve some fabrics. Definitely don’t apply it to your face. To limit your use of DEET while still keeping bugs away, start using these other insect repelling techniques as well:
Wear lots of clothing and a hat. This is one obvious way to keep bugs off your skin. But be aware that bees are attracted to bright clothing.
Avoid mosquito breeding grounds. Mosquitoes love to breed in small, shallow bodies of water, like that puddle in the yard from when it rained last night or that potted plant you watered yesterday. Be aware of these areas and get rid of them or prevent them from forming if you can.
Don’t use heavily scented soaps, perfumes, or colognes. If mosquitoes can smell you, they’ll come for you. Try to stay as smell-less as possible if you’re going outside.
Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin insect repellent. Unlike DEET, permethrin won’t destroy your clothing. Also unlike DEET, permethrin can’t be absorbed through the skin and so isn’t harmful to you unless you ingest it.
If you are bitten by a bug, get proper treatment and keep an eye out for symptoms of bug-carried illness or allergic reactions such as rashes, fever, headaches, and nausea. If you experience any of these, it’s important to get medical help. Fortunately, Neighbors Emergency Center offers excellent 24 hour emergency care in Houston and Austin. If your bug bite is serious or you expect it has given you an illness, come by anytime and our board certified physicians will