During the summer, kids can spend hours outside each day. While being outdoors is a great way for kids to stay active, it’s also a great way for them to get attacked by insects. Knowing where insects typically thrive during the summer and how you can repel them is the best way to avoid getting bit.
How To Avoid Mosquito Bites
In addition to being pesky, mosquitoes carry a number of diseases, including Zika and West Nile virus. (If you are pregnant and interested in traveling somewhere Zika has spread, you should consult with your doctor.)
Knowing how mosquitoes operate is key to repelling them. Follow these few tips to keep your kids (and yourself) free of bites this summer.
Keep It Breezy
The slightest breeze can keep mosquitoes at bay. Researchers have learned that mosquitoes have great difficulty flying in any breeze over 1 MPH, so try to find a breezy spot or get a fan set up outside to avoid these pesky creatures. It’s a good idea to keep the fan pointed downward as mosquitoes usually fly close to the ground in an effort to avoid wind.
Dress In Light Colors
Because mosquitoes rely on their vision in order to find food, dark colors typically stand out to them. Mosquitoes usually fly close to the ground, so this helps them identify things that stand out from the horizon. By wearing lighter colors, you will be less likely to attract them.
Avoid Dusk And Dawn
During these times of the day, the wind usually slows down. Less wind equals more mosquitoes, so try to schedule any outdoor activities during other times of the day.
Don’t Mess With Wearables
Many people swear by DEET wristbands, anklets, etc. Unfortunately, the DEET must be spread on your skin to have an effect, so these items won’t do much to keep away insects.
Insect repellants containing DEET can greatly help prevent mosquito bites. It’s important to note that DEET should not be used on children 2 months of age or younger. It is recommended that you use 10% to 30% DEET for best results.
For two hours of protection, choose 10% DEET, while 30% DEET while protect for about five hours. Picaridin has also become a nice alternative to DEET, available in concentrations of 5% to 10%.
How To Avoid Tick Bites
Often difficult to identify, ticks come in a variety of sizes (some as small as a speck of dirt) and can be found in all different types of terrain. Because they can carry a number of diseases, your child should be educated on how to protect themselves from ticks.
Wear Insect-Repellent Clothing
If your child is planning to spend time in an area full of leaves, bushes and trees, where ticks often live, insect-repellent clothing may be a good option. This type of clothing has been treated with a specific process that binds a repellent to the fibers of the fabric and can protect against ticks, mosquitoes, ants, flies and chiggers.
Cover Your Feet
Because ticks often live near to the ground, it’s important your child protects his or her feet when outdoors. According to studies, those who wore footwear that had been sprayed with repellent were 74 times as protected as those who did not spray their shoes.
Check Yourself Regularly
When outdoors, your child should check themselves regularly for ticks. At the end of the day, make sure your child showers and also checks thoroughly for unexpected bumps which may be an embedded tick.
It’s also a good idea to run all your child’s clothing through a hot dryer for 10-15 minutes at the end of the day as the heat will kill off any live ticks that may be on the clothes.
If your child does find a tick, it does not immediately mean he or she will experience a tick-borne illness. However, you should continually be watching for symptoms that may arise, such as a rash, fever, headache, joint pain or dizziness.
How To Avoid Chigger Bites
Before you can avoid them, it’s important to know what chiggers are. Also known as red bugs, chiggers are actually considered members of the arachnid family. They are so small in size—they’re actually considered larvae—that they are hardly even noticeable. However, their bites come with a bang.
Know Where Chiggers Live
One of the best ways to avoid getting bit by a chigger is to know where they live. Some of the most common areas to find chiggers include: long and overgrown grass, forests, beneath rocks, areas of high humidity, grassy areas near lakes and rivers and among weeds.
Use The Right Bug Spray
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends permethrin as the best bug spray to use for chiggers. If you’re planning to spray your clothing with permethrin, you should try to do so one to two days prior to being in an infested area.
Cover Your Skin
If you’re going to be in an area where chiggers may be present, wear tall boots and trousers (these should be tucked into the boots). You should also wear a long-sleeved shirt and belt to keep clothing directly against the skin. This keeps chiggers from having direct access to the skin.
Clean Your Clothing
After you’ve been in an infested area, it’s important that you wash your clothes as soon as possible. It is also recommended you take a hot shower or bath afterward, scrubbing the entire body with soap.
If you happen to get bit by a chigger, it’s important that you wash it immediately with soap and water to get rid of any additional chiggers on your body. Once you’ve cleaned the area, apply an antiseptic to the bite. Chigger bites can take anywhere from one to three weeks to heal completely.
If your child has received an insect bite accompanied by a rash, fever, headache, joint pain or dizziness, you should seek medical care immediately.
At Medical City Children’s Hospital Urgent Care, our pediatricians are board certified to provide quick, convenient care that your family deserves - even after hours or on the weekend.
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.