Managing Mosquitoes: 3 Tips to Keep Your Family Safe From Those Pesky Mosquitoes by 30Seconds Health
Most mosquito bites are harmless, and the symptoms will subside in a few days. Still, if you’re a parent who pays attention to news about mosquito-borne illnesses, it’s hard not to be concerned. A year ago, the Zika virus dominated U.S. headlines. “Nothing spreads faster across most of the world than a mosquito-borne virus,” says Dr. Brent W. Laartz, a board-certified infectious diseases specialist and author of "How to Avoid Contagious Diseases."
“It seems we just become accustomed to diagnosing one virus when the next one is discovered," says Dr. Laartz. And though fears die down in the fall and winter, when mosquitoes disappear in most of the U.S., the threat never really goes away. Here are Dr. Laartz’s tips for protecting children against mosquito bites and mosquito-borne illness:
- Cover as much of your skin as possible. “All it takes is a small amount of skin exposure for a mosquito to land and start feeding,” Dr. Laartz says. If it’s too hot to cover up with long sleeves and long pants, apply an EPA-rated repellent to skin and clothes. The repellent should have DEET with a 25 percent concentration.
- Use sunscreen first, then repellent. If you can’t find a product with both sun and insect protection, use sunscreen first, let it dry and then apply the repellent, Dr. Laartz advises. (Sunscreens can inactivate repellents.) Keep the product away from your eyes and mouth, and take special care with small children. Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old; cover your crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
- Don’t count on treated wristbands and stickers for complete control. They should be coupled with repellent, Dr. Laartz says. And wear protection all day. “The mosquito that carries the Zika and Chikungunya viruses bites during the day and lives closer to human dwellings,” Dr. Laartz says. “It also bites multiple times and bites multiple people, so it can spread these viruses more rapidly.”
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