(RxWiki News) It's summer — a time to be outside and enjoy nature. But mosquitoes, as always, will make an appearance.
In addition to being annoying and causing you to itch, mosquitoes can spread certain viruses. Infected mosquitoes can spread dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses.
Here's what you need to know to keep yourself and your family protected from mosquitoes and the potential health risks they pose.
Standing Water = Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes love water. In fact, they lay their eggs near water. That said, the best thing you can do to control mosquitoes in and around your house is remove anything and everything that stores water. This may include but is not limited to flower pot saucers, planters, tires, buckets, bird baths and trash cans. If you cannot discard items that may hold water, empty the water and leave them turned over.
You may even have to scrub these items. If you cannot empty the water or discard these items, make sure to fit the containers holding water with covers to prevent mosquitoes from getting in and laying eggs.
For items without lids, you can use wire mesh. Make sure the holes are smaller than an adult mosquito.
Choose an insect repellent that contains active ingredients that are registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), suggests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These ingredients include DEET (Off!, Cutter, Repel, Ultrathon), picaridin (Sawyer, Repel Tick Defense) and IR3535 (Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition), as well as some oil of lemon eucalyptus* (Repel), para-menthane-diol products and 2-undecanone.
*Pure oil of lemon eucalyptus (essential oil) is not recommended.
When using an insect repellent:
- Always follow the instructions on the product label.
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Do not apply under clothes.
- Do not over-apply. Use just enough to cover your skin and clothing.
- Do not apply repellent over cuts or wounds.
- Do not allow children to handle or apply repellent.
- When applying to the face, spray repellent onto your hands and then pat your face.
- Avoid applying repellent around the eyes and mouth.
- Wash your hands after application to avoid getting it in your eyes or mouth.
- If applying sunscreen and repellent, apply sunscreen first.
- Be sure to wash the skin where you applied repellent with soap and water when you go back inside.
When using a repellent on an infant, child or pregnant woman:
- Do not apply repellent to babies who are younger than 2 months old. For children younger than 2 months, protect your baby by using an infant carrier draped with mosquito netting. Make sure it has an elastic edge for a tight fit.
- Do not apply repellent with lemon eucalyptus on children who are 3 years old or younger.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use insect repellents that are EPA-approved.
- When spending time outdoors, be sure to dress appropriately. Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a hat.
- Spray repellent on your clothes. You may even choose to treat your clothes or your bed net (if you are using one in an area where mosquitoes are very active) with permethrin. If you are treating your clothes or bed net with permethrin, they must be treated 24 to 48 hours in advance of travel to allow them to dry.
- Do not apply permethrin products that are intended to treat clothing directly on the skin.
- Sleep in an air-conditioned room that is screened properly.
Written by Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS