Summer Sun, Bugs, and Ticks

Yippee! It’s summer!

“COVID vaccines are up, COVID transmission is down, the weather is warm, LET’S GET OUTSIDE!”

That’s pretty much my mantra right now. But outside comes with some problems we haven’t had to deal with for a while: sun exposure, mosquito bites, and ticks.

Although the sun feels good and just a little bit of sun exposure each day gets us great doses of vitamin D, the harmful radiation from sun exposure can cause burns, premature aging, and increase our risk of skin cancer.

  • Sunscreen with broad exposure against both UVA and UVB rays should be worn whenever you or your children are outside.
  • An SPF of 30 or higher is best
  • Sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide gives the best protection and is better for individuals with sensitive skin
  • Reapply every 2 hours or after getting out of the water, even if using so-called “waterproof” sunscreens
  • Protection from the sun using awnings, stroller covers, lightweight pants & long-sleeve shirts, and swim shirts is a big help too!

Mosquitos can rarely cause disease, but more often cause itching, pain, and annoyance. Bites can be avoided with some simple tips:

  • Avoid being outside during dusk and dawn
  • Mosquitos hate moving air — a fan blowing on your outdoor patio can help lessen the amount of mosquitos around
  • DEET-containing bug spray can be used on anyone over the age of two months with a few caveats:
    • Only apply ONCE each day. Avoid combination sunscreen & bug spray products — we want to reapply the sunscreen but not the DEET!
    • Don’t apply to hands or face
    • Don’t apply under clothing
    • Use lower-concentration DEET products (5-7%) when possible, but 30% DEET can be used when spending a lot of time in the woods such as for camping

Ticks are generally gross, and the smaller deer tick can transmit Lyme disease, especially in Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

  • Wear socks and long pants when walking in tall grass or in the woods
  • Do a complete tick check from the top of the head down to the feet each day after being outside
  • If you find a tick on your child or yourself, don’t panic!
    • Pay attention to whether the tick’s body seems to be swollen with blood or not
    • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure.
    • Get a photo of the tick or save it in a container with rubbing alcohol so we can get a look at it if we need to.
  • If a tick has been attached for less than 36 hours and is not swollen, there is a very low risk of getting any sort of illness, but don’t hesitate to call us with any questions!

I hope you find this information useful. Now get out there and enjoy our beautiful Chicago summer!!

 

Written by: Dr. Andy Bernstein

 

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