Health Advocate Blog

Protect yourself from summer pests

Summer is finally here, which means that summer bugs are also enjoying the warm weather—and the humans and animals who are spending more time outdoors. Mosquitos and ticks, among other insects, can cause a nasty bite, but more importantly, they can possibly carry and pass on diseases including Zika, West Nile and Lyme (depending on where you live). By being vigilant and taking precautions like those below to prevent bites and stings, you can protect yourself, your family and pets while enjoying your time outside in the months ahead.

Wear long sleeves, pants and socks to reduce your risk of bites, especially during the hours when mosquitoes are typically biting, such as during dawn and dusk hours. Experts recommend wearing light-colored clothing to help you spot any critters hitching a ride.

Traveling? Check your destination and activities to plan ahead about what steps you may need to take to protect yourself from bug bites. Check the Centers for Disease Control’s Destination pages to see what you may need to do to avoid health risks of concern at your destination.

Use air conditioning and/or window and door screens to prevent mosquitoes and other insects from coming inside. Avoid leaving doors open so none try to sneak inside!!

Use bug spray on any exposed skin and on your clothing to make yourself less attractive to insects. To find the best repellent for you, check out this tool from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to search registered repellents. The EPA and CDC recommend repellents that list any of the following as active ingredients – DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or plant-based lemon eucalyptus oil.

Use citronella candles to help repel mosquitoes and other bugs.

Check your entire body for ticks – they especially like to hide behind knees, in armpits, and behind ears, among other spots. Ticks will also ride in on clothing and pets and then attach to a person later, so carefully examine all pets and gear that you brought outside.

Shower soon after being outdoors and do a thorough tick check.

Sometimes despite your best efforts, you may get bitten. Here’s what to do if that happens:

  • If you get bitten or stung, treat the area with a cool compress followed by topical ointment. Contact your doctor if these at-home tips do not help–they may recommend other additional treatments depending on your symptoms
  • If you or a family member feels ill or has a fever after getting a bite, talk to your healthcare provider.
  • If you or someone in your family has a severe allergic reaction to a bite or sting, such as fainting or trouble breathing, go to the ER or call 911 immediately.

By taking precautions to prevent bites, you can protect yourself and your family and enjoy summer to the fullest!