Protecting Yourself from Bug Bites

Southeast Texas has a lush, thriving natural landscape that makes it a wonderful place to live and work. However, this same lush ecosystem is also very inviting to pests like mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and other insects. Making it very important for local residents to protect themselves from these biting bugs by taking careful preparations and getting medical help when necessary.

The Dangers of Bug Bites

When many people think of bugs bites they think of red, itchy bumps that may make outdoor activities less enjoyable. However, unfortunately bug bites can do more than simply inconvenience campers or cut a picnic short; many very serious, even life threatening diseases are carried by mosquitoes and other bugs.

Diseases Carried by Mosquitoes and Bugs

  • West Nile
  • Lyme Disease
  • Malaria
  • Dengue
  • Yellow Fever
  • Chikungunya
  • Tick-borne Encephalitis

In addition to the above human diseases, insect bites can also spread serious illnesses to pets and livestock.

Allergic Reactions to Bites

Allergies to bug bites are surprisingly common. Most of the time insect bites are harmless but sometimes they can be dangerous. A mild allergic reaction is characterized by a bite that gets red and swollen, this is due to the proteins in a mosquito’s saliva. An allergic reaction can be much more severe in some young children, allergic adults, and others with compromised immune systems. Symptoms can be but are not limited to significant swelling, fever, hives, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and dizziness. In extreme cases an allergic person may experience anaphylaxis, in which the throat begins to swell closed and breathing becomes more difficult. It is crucial that these individuals carry an epipen. An epipen can be used for rapid but not long-lasting relief from symptoms of an allergic reaction. After using an epipen the individual should always seek immediate medical attention.

The Importance of Being Mindful of Your Surroundings

The first step toward protecting yourself from bug bites is to be mindful of your surroundings. For example ticks are commonly found in wooded areas. Meanwhile, mosquitoes require standing water to lay their eggs and are thus commonly found in places with standing water such as near lakes, rivers, and bayous etc. Fleas are often found in areas with dense underbrush like shrubs and bushes, long grass, leaves, trees, and other foliage. Knowing what type of biting bug may inhabit the areas you will be visiting will allow you to take the proper precautions and be vigilant for these pests.

Protecting Yourself with Repellents

One of the most important precautions you can take when you are in an environment hospitable to biting bugs is to use insect repellent. Products such as OFF! can be applied directly to a person’s skin and clothes to keep bugs at bay. Other products such as Permethrin are formulated to be sprayed only onto clothes or other surfaces, but should not be used on human skin. Always check the directions and warning labels on such products before use.

Most repellents will use one of the following three active ingredients:

  • DEET
  • Icaridin/picaridin
  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

Insecticides or insect misting systems may also be used around residential areas to reduce or prevent infestations and interrupt the insect breeding life cycle.

Protecting Yourself with Clothing and other Barriers

Another simple and effective way to protect yourself from biting bugs is through the use of clothing or other physical barriers. Long sleeves, long pants, boots, gloves, and other clothing that covers the skin are all effective for preventing bug bites. If you will be sleeping outdoors or near open windows a screen or mosquito netting may also be a good idea.

Keeping Mosquitoes and Other Bugs away from Your Home and Yard

Finally, try to make your home and yard as inhospitable and unappealing to bugs as possible. Don’t allow standing water to remain on your property, keep your yard neatly mowed, trim bushes, shrubs, and other vegetation, and immediately resolve any indoor or outdoor infestations. If, despite all these precautions, you or a family member is bitten by a bug and suffers an allergic reaction make sure to seek immediate medical attention. Golden Triangle Emergency Center is here to help twenty-four a days, seven days a week.