Here’s how to help avoid the misery of insect bites for you and your kids.
Summertime is here and many families are enjoying fun under the sun, but but here’s something that’s not fun: bug bites. As adults, we understand that we just have to treat the bites and avoid the constant urge to scratch. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy for children. The itching, scratching and burning can be unbearable, sometimes causing sleepless nights.
On top of that, some bites from ticks and mosquitoes can lead to serious illnesses like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis. Buddy Creech, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt, warns parents that these bacteria can even cause meningitis.
So what’s the best way to protect your family? Prevention, prevention, prevention…stop the bites before they happen.
The Tennessee Department of Health recommends these five tips to help you and your family avoid becoming bait for blood-sucking insects:
- Wear light-colored clothing and check your pets for insects. This will help you spot ticks that may latch onto your clothes or your pets. Shake all insects off before going inside. Once these insects are inside, they have more time to creep onto your body and cause harm.
- Tuck your pants into your socks. While this may not be the most fashionable tip, it does help keep ticks off your legs. More importantly, it prevents your children from suffering through days of itching, scratching and discomfort.
- Apply the right repellents. Tick sprays should be EPA-approved and applied to clothes and shoes every 3-4 days. Mosquito sprays should contain DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535, and they should be applied to your skin every 3-4 hours. Follow label instructions for repellents, and pay particular attention to recommendations for use on children.
- Destroy their homes. Remove leaves, brush and standing water from the areas around your home. These are common habitats for insects and will attract more bugs over time.
- Avoid being outdoors at dusk or dawn. If you must go outside during these times, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks to protect yourself.
Visit the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital website for more information on treating bug bites and stings or properly removing ticks.