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Bugs and Bites

Family enjoying the OutdoorsYou’re likely spending lots of time outdoors during the wonderful hazy, lazy days of summer. To more safely enjoy this time of year there are a few precautions to keep in mind.

You’ve already read our e-letter on protecting your skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays so check that off the list.

Besides unprotected sun exposure there are a “few” other small things that can ruin your otherwise perfect summer day – BUGS! Take mosquitoes, for example - they seem to be everywhere, their "bites" itch, and they can even transmit disease! What can you do to avoid them? Here are some useful tips:
  • Stay inside during the times when mosquitoes are most likely to bite – dawn and dusk – and avoid areas of infestation (like wooded areas).
  • Cover up – wear light long sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Safely use insect repellants - this point can get a little confusing so let’s spend a little extra time on it.

Protecting yourself from Bugs and BitesThe perfect insect repellent would be long-lasting, non-toxic, and effective against a variety of insects.

Guess what? The perfect insect repellant has yet to be found.

DEET is perhaps the best known of all insect repellants. It has been well-studied and shown to provide effective protection against a number of insects. The higher the concentration of DEET the longer protection should last, but 30% DEET is usually sufficient for most common activities.

Though most studies suggest DEET to be safe there are lingering questions about toxicity that make me uncomfortable (for example, DEET damages plastic surfaces…). This is why I prefer other forms of insect repellant, especially for children, such as those made from eucalyptus oil (PMD), geraniol or Neem oil. Ask your doctor which insect repellant is best for you and your child.

Most insect repellants can be applied to clothing, but to lessen the risk of skin irritation shouldn’t be applied beneath clothing.

Concern exists that insect repellants may interfere with the desired activity of sunscreens and blocks. The data are incomplete as yet, but it seems prudent to avoid all-in-one products that combine insect repellants and sunscreen / block until more is known.

For a good review of information about mosquito bites, insect repellants and the West Nile virus visit the CDC web site:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/insect_repellent.htm

Enjoy the outdoors safely this summer, and be well.
Dr. Russ

** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **