Enjoy the 4th without the bites! – Travel Medicine, Inc.
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Enjoy the 4th without the bites!

Posted by Stuart Rose on

 insect bite protection.

You’re getting ready to celebrate this holiday weekend—with everybody enjoying the fine (hopefully) weather and gathered around the grill or barbecue. But who needs those uninvited guests!

This is the season when those pesky mosquitoes descend on us—annoying everyone who is trying to slap them away. It’s not just a matter of nuisance bites, however. Mosquitoes can also transfer serious diseases such as West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis.

What to do? Let’s start with repellents. These act on your skin and most likely contain the chemical DEET in varying concentrations, some up to 100%. Other repellents may contain picaridin or lemon eucalyptus.  

DEET is the gold standard and is completely safe—just don’t get it your eyes (or drink it!). Several years ago, there was a controversy about “DEET toxicity” possibly causing seizures in children—but this has been shown not to occur. As a matter of fact, if you look at any DEET-containing repellent, you’ll notice that there are no dosage instructions, just don’t “Over Apply” and no age restrictions, even on infants.

The key to using any repellent is to apply on a regular basis. Those repellents with a higher DEET concentration will last longer, up to 10-12 hours when using Ben’s 30 or Ultrathon.

Alternative repellents include non-DEET repellents containing the active ingredient picaridin.

Sawyer’s Premium 20% picaridin repellent was voted Best All-Around Repellent by Consumer’s Report in July, 2015. Also, picaridin-containing repellents are the First non-DEET repellents recommended by the CDC and WHO to prevent malaria.

Picaridin is more effective on biting flies than DEET and is safe on gear and equipment where DEET can damage some synthetics.

Some people prefer natural, non-chemical repellents, such those containing Lemon Eucalytus. They can be effective, but are shorter acting.

What to do? No matter which repellent you choose, apply as instructed. I personally prefer a repellent containing about 30% DEET.

What else can you do? Well, if you also wear clothing treated with PERMETHRIN, you’ll increase your protection to >90%.

Not many people know this: Set up a fan to gently blow air at the place where everyone is gathered. Very effective keeping bugs away and is often neglected as a "repellent".


Enjoy the 4th!

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