BUG BITES! How to protect yourself

As the weather starts to warm and people begin enjoying outdoor activities with trips to the swimming pool, summer barbecues and camping.

For myself, and many others, this includes many hours on a stream fly fishing, where bugs are a vital component to our success.

No matter the outdoor activity, exposure to bugs is an inevitable reality. Bugs such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas cause annoyance and pain when they bite and can even spread harmful diseases. Some bug bites are not treatable by vaccination or medication.

Knowing how to avoid and treat bug bites and stings will help make outdoor fun both safe and enjoyable.

Using insect repellent is an easy way to take precaution against bug bites.

There is a variety of repellents available at your local convenience store. Consider the type of pest you want to ward off.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends EPA-registered insect repellents that contain at least 20 percent DEET to protect against mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs.

There are other options that protect against mosquitoes but are less effective on ticks and other bugs.

Read the label and choose a repellent that will ward off the native pests in your area.

Another preventive measure is to be cognizant of peak exposure times.

In general, mosquitoes tend to be most active at dawn and dusk; however, their patterns may change depending on location.

It is smart to check local resources to understand when bugs are most active in your area and avoid spending prolonged periods of time outdoors during peak biting hours.

Clothing serves as a protective barrier between your skin and mosquitoes and other insects.

People traveling to areas where there is a high risk of contracting disease can minimize the amount of exposed skin by wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants.

You can spray your clothing with repellent to help deter bugs, but make sure to remove that clothing upon going indoors and wash off the repellent as most repellents include chemicals that should not be ingested.

If you are concerned about contracting a mosquito or bug-spread disease such as Zika, consider avoiding travel to places of high risk.

It can be disappointing to miss a trip to the tropics because of the threat of contracting illness, but for individuals at high risk of developing complications such as pregnant women and children, it is worth deterring travel to places with disease outbreaks.

If you are concerned about bug bites in Lock Haven, or have questions about the safety of traveling to certain destinations this summer, consult your primary care physician for recommendations and tips on how to protect yourself from bug bites.

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John Hanna, PA-C is a certified physician’s assistant for Haven Medical Center and is a graduate of Lock Haven University. Haven Medical Center is accepting new patients and is located at 208 East Church Street. Call 570-748-0590 for an appointment or more information.

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