6 tips for a bug-bite-free summer
Summertime gives families the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and allows kids to spend fun times together. It is also important to remember that time spent outdoors can mean exposure to pesky bugs including mosquitoes, ticks and fleas.
Each of these bugs carries viruses, disease or serious infection that can potentially harm children, which means parents need to take certain precautions to keep kids safe.
“During the summer months it is critical that parents remember to protect their children from bugs by using proper insect repellent and avoiding areas with high insect populations,”said Dr. Mike Gittelman, co-director of the Cincinnati-based Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center, in a statement.
Dr. Gittelman along with the American Academy of Pediatrics offer the following tips on keeping kids safe from summer bugs:
- Avoid using scented soaps, perfumes and hair sprays on your child.
- Steer kids clear of areas where insects nest, such as stagnant water, blooming gardens and uncovered foods. Ticks are common in yard waste and high grasses.
- Use repellent with 20 percent DEET to keep ticks away. Do not use DEET on kids younger than 2 months old. Always read the label for DEET concentration, which varies among products.
- Use picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or products containing DEET to keep mosquitoes at bay. You can also treat clothes with permethrin or buy clothing pretreated with this.
- After kids have been outside, have them shower as soon as possible and check their bodies for ticks. Wash and tumble dry their clothes and check your pets for ticks.
- If your child develops a rash, fever, body aches, fatigue, headache, stiff neck and/or disorientation within one to three weeks after being bitten, call your primary care doctor.
Dr. Catherine Creticos, chief of infectious diseases at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago agrees with these recommendations and adds some of her own. “We also tell people to wear long sleeves and long pants for hiking in the woods and places where there will be lots of ticks and insects,” she says.
Travelers to other regions must also take precautions and be on alert for diseases caused by mosquitoes. Those traveling to the Caribbean this summer, for example, are at risk for dengue and Chikungunya fever, Dr. Creticos adds, which has also shown up in Florida and other southern states. “Travelers to these common destinations need to use protection for these mosquito-borne illnesses; tick exposure in these areas is less likely,” she explains.
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