You Can Easily Prevent Mosquitos and Bug Bites this Summer

It’s great when your little one wants to turn off the TV and play outside, but it’s important to realize that there are bugs and insects out there that could do your child harm. Ticks and mosquitos can spread diseases like West Nile virus, Lyme disease and even rarer diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever. But that shouldn’t mean an end to playing in nature. These simple steps will help you prevent bug bites (and the diseases that can come with them):

  • Avoid peak hours: Dusk to dawn (night to early morning) is peak biting time for many breeds of mosquitos. Moving indoors during these hours may save you from getting bitten.
  • Protect yourself with clothing and gear: Bugs can only bite skin they can reach. So when you’re out in the woods, wear long sleeves, socks, closed-toe shoes, long pants and a hat that covers your ears and neck.
  • Use the right insect repellent: There are a lot of different bug repellents out there, check the label for one of these active ingredients (recommended by the Centers for Disease Control):
    • DEET: Protects you the longest: eight to 10+ hours. Don’t use it on children under two months and avoid spraying directly onto your face (it’s toxic if swallowed).
    • Picaridin: This protects you up to eight hours but should be kept off infants under two months.
    • IR 3535: This repellent protects you from four to eight hours and has no known harmful effects.
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus: This is a more natural option and protects you for up to six hours. It can cause a reaction on sensitive skin and cannot be used on children under three years old.
  • Check for ticks every time: Once your family is done playing outside, check under everyone’s arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, around the waist and especially in the hair. If you find a tick, use tweezers to remove it. As long as it’s been on your skin for less than 24 hours, you have a minimal chance of getting Lyme disease. Ticks are less than an inch long (but become larger as they go through life stages, and can live up to three years. Ticks can be removed by following these steps, and should be disposed of by submersing in alcohol, placing in a sealed container, wrapping tightly in tape, or flushing down the toilet.
  • Make changes around your yard: Mosquitos need standing water to breed, so keep your house and yard free of it. Unclog roof gutters, empty children’s pools at least once a week, get rid of old tires in your yard, don’t have empty flower pots sitting outdoors and drain your fire pit if water collects in it.

Photo credit: Loren Kerns

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