With warmer weather and longer days, we spend more time outside. This brings plenty of opportunities to improve our health with exercise and events in the great outdoors. The great outdoors also exposes us to more insects such as ticks and mosquitoes that can threaten our health. We need to be preparing for protection. This article was inspired by the very well written article in the New York Times called How to Protect Yourself From Mosquitoes and Ticks.
Prevention is really the mainstay of protection from tick borne diseases such as Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or mosquito borne diseases such as West Nile virus and Zika virus. Quick tips to avoid bites:
- Wear clothes that cover most of your body such as long pants rucked into socks, long sleeves, shoes, socks, hat and bandana.
- Buy permethrin (insectide) treated clothing which repels insects or spray closed shoes with permethrin.
- For any exposed skin, please use insect repellants.
- DEET, picardin and IR3535 are effective against ticks and mosquitoes. Oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthan-diol or 2-undecanone can also be used against mosquitoes too.
- Apply sunscreen first before applying repellant.
- Do not apply repellant to babies under 2 months.
- Avoid tall grasses and stay in the middle of the trail.
- After outdoor activities, check yourself in the shower for ticks.
- Make sure to check in the scalp, belly button, folds of skin, private parts, behind your ears and knees. I have had patients think ticks were moles, so be sure to check anything that looks dark carefully.
- Check your pets for ticks when they come from outside.
- Avoid being outside during dusk when mosquitoes are more active.
If you find a tick, try to remove it with pointy tweezers. You want to grasp it tightly and pull it straight out. If the tick has been on you for more than 36 hours, call your physician as he/she may prescribe Doxycycline 200 mg once to prevent Lyme. If you prefer not to take medication, you could bring the tick into your doctor’s office to have it analyzed for evidence of Lyme. For more tips on Lyme, check out the previous Lady Docs article written about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme.
Do your best to decrease the risk of insects in your home and yard. Use fencing to keep out deer and keep plants tidy and grass short. Some areas spray yards to keep insects low. Make sure that your screens are intact and use air conditioning and fans to keep mosquito activity low.
Awareness of the importance of the problem with ticks and mosquitoes is the key to successful avoidance of bites. Keeping vigilant will help the upcoming summer months as healthy as possible!