How to Avoid Itches and Illnesses from Bug Bites; Tips from University Hospitals Case Medical Center

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Skin expert Dr. Elma Baron offers tips on prevention of bites that may spoil your summer fun.

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It’s summertime, and that means mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs are on the loose. Here’s how to avoid the itches and illnesses they carry.

In the U.S., mosquitoes are mainly nuisances leaving bites that itch, turn red and swell. But in recent years they have become carriers of West Nile Virus, a disease that usually has mild or even no symptoms but can cause death if it reaches the brain. Prevent them from breeding near your house by eliminating standing water in outdoor containers like potted plants and the pool (cover or empty it nightly). Use mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, each of which the Environmental Protection Agency has rated safe and effective. Wear long sleeves and pants, especially at sunup and sundown, when mosquitoes come out to feed.

Ticks are notorious for transmitting Lyme disease, a bacterial disease that, left untreated, can spread to the joints, nervous system and heart. Avoid tick bites by limiting time in wooded and grassy areas, and wearing long sleeves and pants. If you have been in a tick area, check your body thoroughly for ticks and promptly remove any that you find.

Bees and wasps are another summer nuisance, but unless you’re allergic to their stings, they aren’t dangerous. The best way to avoid bees and wasps is to get out of their way. If one gets close to you, remain still and calm, and it will likely go on its way.

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