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Posts for tag: ticks

May 14, 2019
Category: Prevention
Tags: repellents   ticks   insects   bugs   mosquitos   camping   outdoors.  

Choosing an Insect Repellent for Your Child


Mosquitoes, biting flies, and tick bites can make children miserable. While most children have only mild reactions to insect bites, some children can become very sick.

One way to protect your child from biting insects is to use insect repellents. However, it’s important that insect repellents are used safely and correctly.

Read on for more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about types of repellents, DEET, using repellents safely, and other ways to protect your child from insect bites.

Types of Repellents

Insect repellents come in many forms, including aerosols, sprays, liquids, creams, and sticks. Some are made from chemicals and some have natural ingredients.

Insect repellents prevent bites from biting insects but not stinging insects. Biting insects include mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, chiggers, and biting flies. Stinging insects include bee​s, hornets, and wasps.​​Available Insect Repellents - Chart

NOTE: The following types of products are not effective repellents:

  • Wristbands soaked in chemical repellents

  • Garlic or vitamin B1 taken by mouth

  • Ultrasonic devices that give off sound waves designed to keep insects away

  • Bird or bat houses

  • Backyard bug zappers (Insects may actually be attracted to your yard). ​

About DEET

DEET is a chemical used in insect repellents. The amount of DEET in insect repellents varies from product to product, so it’s important to read the label of any product you use. The amount of DEET may range from less than 10% to more than 30%. DEET greater than 30% doesn’t offer any additional protection.

Studies show that products with higher amounts of DEET protect people longer. For example, products with amounts around 10% may repel pests for about 2 hours, while products with amounts of about 24% last an average of 5 hours. But studies also show that products with amounts of DEET greater than 30% don’t offer any extra protection.

The AAP recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger th​an 2 months.

Tips for Using Repellents Safely


  • Read the label and follow all directions and precautions.

  • Only apply insect repellents on the outside of your child’s clothing and on exposed skin. Note: Permethrin-containing products should not be applied to skin.

  • Spray repellents in open areas to avoid breathing them in.

  • Use just enough repellent to cover your child’s clothing and exposed skin. Using more doesn’t make the repellent more effective. Avoid reapplying unless needed.

  • Help apply insect repellent on young children. Supervise older children when using these products.

  • Wash your children’s skin with soap and water to remove any repellent when they return indoors, and wash their clothing before they wear it again.


  • Never apply insect repellent to children younger than 2 months.

  • Never spray insect repellent directly onto your child’s face. Instead, spray a little on your hands first and then rub it on your child’s face. Avoid the eyes and mouth.

  • Do not spray insect repellent on cu​ts, wounds, or irritated skin.

  • Do not use products that combine DEET with sunscreen. The DEET may make the sun protection factor (SPF) less effective. These products can overexpose your child to DEET because the sunscreen needs to be reapplied often. 

Reactions to Insect Repellents

If you suspect that your child is having a reaction, such as a rash, to an insect repellent, stop using the product and wash your child’s skin with soap and water. Then call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222 or your child’s doctor for help. If you go to your child’s doctor’s office, take the repellent container with you.


Other Ways to Protect Your Child from Insect Bites

While you can’t prevent all insect bites, you can reduce the number your child receives by following these guidelines:

  • Tell your child to avoid areas that attract flying insects, such as garbage cans, stagnant pools of water, and flowerbeds or orchards.

  • Dress your child in long pants, a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, socks, and closed shoes when you know your child will be exposed to insects. A broad-brimmed hat can help to keep insects away from the face. Mosquito netting may be used over baby carriers or strollers in areas whe​re your baby may be exposed to insects.

  • Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints because they seem to attract insects.

  • Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes, or hair sprays on your child because they may attract insects.

  • Keep door and window screens in good repair.

  • Check your child’s skin at the end of the day if you live in an area where ticks are present and your child has been playing outdoors.

  • Remember that the most effective repellent for ticks is permethrin. It should not be applied to skin but on your child’s clothing.

May 14, 2018
Category: Prevention
Tags: repellents   ticks   removal   tweezers  

From the CDC:

If you find a tick attached to your skin, there's no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.

How to remove a tick

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible. Do NOT use your fingers!
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  4. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers


  clipart image of a tickAvoid folklore remedies such as "painting" the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible–not waiting for it to detach.


Clipart image showing how to remove an embedded tick with a pair of tweezers.


If you develop a rash, fever or severe headache within a month of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.


Treating Tick Bites


  • Most tick bites are harmless.
  • The spread of disease by ticks is rare.
  • If the tick is still attached to the skin, it will need to be removed.
  • Covering the tick with petroleum jelly, nail polish, or rubbing alcohol doesn't work. Neither does touching the tick with a hot or cold object.
  • The best prevention of tick diseases is removal of the attached tick within 24-36 hrs.
  • Try one of the following techniques:

Wood Tick Removal: Try Soapy Cotton Ball First

  • Apply liquid soap to a cotton ball until it's soaked.
  • Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball.
  • Let it stay on the tick for 30 seconds.
  • The tick will usually be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.

Wood Tick Removal: Try Tweezers Second

  • Use tweezers and grasp the tick close to the skin (on its head).
  • Pull the wood tick straight upward without twisting or crushing it.
  • Maintain a steady pressure until it releases its grip.
  • If tweezers aren't available, use fingers, a loop of thread around the jaws, or a needle between the jaws for traction.

Deer Tick Removal

  • Tiny deer ticks need to be scraped off with a fingernail or credit card edge.

Tick's Head

  • If the wood tick's head breaks off in the skin, remove it.
  • Clean the skin with rubbing alcohol.
  • Use a sterile needle to uncover the head and lift it out.
  • If a small piece of the head remains, the skin will eventually shed it.
  • If most of the head is left, call your doctor.

Antibiotic Ointment

  • Wash the wound and your hands with soap and water after removal to prevent catching any tick disease.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin to the bite once (no prescription needed).

Expected Course

  • Tick bites normally don't itch or hurt. That's why they often go unnoticed.

Call Your Doctor If

  • You can't remove the tick or the tick's head.
  • Fever, rash and/or severe headache in the next 2-4 weeks.
  • Bite begins to look infected.
  • Your child becomes worse.

Preventing Tick Bites


  • When hiking in tick-infested areas, wear long clothing and tuck the ends of pants into socks. Apply an insect repellent to shoes and socks.
  • Permethrin products applied to clothing are more effective than DEET products against ticks.

Tick Repellent for Skin: DEET [Dr. T likes Sawyer Family DEET Product]

  • DEET is an effective tick repellent.
  • Use 30% DEET for children and adolescents (American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation, 2003) (30% DEET protects for 6 hours).

Tick Repellent for Clothing: Permethrin [Dr. T likes the Sawyer Family Permethrin Product]

  • Permethrin-containing products (eg, Duranon, Permanone) are highly effective tick repellents.
  • An advantage over using DEET is that they are applied to and left on clothing instead of skin. Apply it to clothes, especially pants, cuffs, socks, and shoes. You can also put it on other outdoor items (eg, mosquito screen, sleeping bags).
  • Do not apply permethrin to skin (Reason: it's rapidly degraded on contact with skin).

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

January 29, 2017
Tags: repellents   ticks   travel   vacation   Lyme Disease   DEET  

Ticks Carrying Lyme Disease Confirmed in Eastern National Parks

U.S. National Park Service and CDC advise using insect repellents on clothes and skin by Randy Dotinga Tuesday, January 17, 2017.

(HealthDay News) ‑‑ Planning a hiking trip in an eastern U.S. national park? Better pack tick repellent ‑‑ a new study found these parks are home to ticks that carry Lyme disease. Blacklegged ticks ‑‑ also known as deer ticks ‑‑ carrying Lyme disease were found in nine national parks: Acadia National Park in Maine; Catoctin Mountain Park and Monocacy National Battlefield in Maryland; Fire Island National Seashore in Long Island, N.Y.; Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania; Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., and Manassas National Battlefield Park, Prince William Forest Park and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

This is the first time researchers have confirmed that the ticks are living at the parks, although it's long been suspected that the ticks were there because of human Lyme disease infections. "We know Lyme disease is increasing both in numbers of infections and in geographic range in the United States," said researcher Tammi Johnson in a news National Institutes of Health / U.S. National Library of Medicine release from the Entomological Society of America. Johnson is with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "This is the first large‑scale survey in multiple national parks, and though suspected, it had not been previously confirmed that ticks in many of these parks were infected. It's quite likely that ticks infected with Lyme disease spirochetes are present in other parks in Lyme disease endemic areas, too," she explained.

Lyme disease symptoms include fever, headache and rash. Left untreated, the infection can spread to the heart, joints and nervous system, according to the CDC. Visitors to the parks can reduce their risk of infection by following these guidelines, according to the U.S. National Park Service and the CDC: Use insect repellents that contain 20‑30 percent DEET. Apply them to exposed skin and clothing. You can use permethrin‑containing products on clothing as well. Don't sit or lean on logs when you're out on the trail. Check yourself for ticks ‑‑ and check pets and gear. Remove any ticks you find attached.

Once you leave an area that's home to ticks, shower within two hours. This will help rid your body of ticks. To kill ticks on your clothing, put your clothes in a dryer and heat them on high setting for 10 minutes.

"The results of this study serve as a reminder that while enjoying the parks, visitors can and should take steps to help protect themselves and their loved ones from tick and other bites," Johnson said. The study findings were published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. SOURCE: Entomological Society of America, news release, Jan. 3, 2017 

June 10, 2016

Mosquito Repellents: Everything You Need to Know

Article by Brenda Goodman from WebMD

June 03, 2016


Thwack. They’re baaaack. Yep, it’s mosquito season again.

It’s not just about itchy bumps, either -- mosquito bites can make you sick, especially if you’re traveling. Think Zika, chikungunya, West Nile, dengue, or even malaria or yellow fever if you’re going to some parts of Africa.

That means you need some insect repellent -- but surprisingly, lots of people don’t use it. An April 2016 survey done by market research firm TNS Global found that only about half of Americans (49%) follow the CDC’s recommendation to use a mosquito repellent.

Zika poses a particular danger to pregnant women, since it causes birth defects. As it creeps northward from South America and the Caribbean, health officials’ mission is to get the message out loud and clear: Mosquito repellents are safe, and you should use them.

And there are more choices than ever.

The product that’s right for you will depend on why you need it. Are you pregnant or traveling to an area with a lot of mosquito-borne disease? Are you fishing or camping and handling lots of gear? Are you applying it to a young child’s skin? All those things should factor into your buying decision.

We reached out to mosquito experts for advice on choosing and using these products. Here are their rules for making mosquito repellents work for you.

What’s the best active ingredient?

According to the CDC and EPA, there are four ingredients to look for: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or PMD, and IR3535.

DEET is the granddaddy of bug stoppers. It was developed by the U.S. military in 1946, and it’s the most widely used and studied active ingredient out there. It's long gotten a bad rap as a scary chemical, but experts say that reputation isn’t justified, even for pregnant women. Extremely high doses have, on rare occasions, caused nervous system problems like seizures, tremors, and slurred speech, though, so it’s still worth handling with care.

It's found in products like Off! Deep Woods spray, Sawyer’s Ultra 30 Insect Repellent lotion, and 3M’s Ultrathon Insect Repellent lotions and sprays.

While no repellent has been studied extensively in pregnancy, DEET at least has a little data backing its safety. A study of nearly 900 pregnant women in Thailand, which followed moms and babies for a full year after birth, found no harmful effects of DEET used on the skin during the second and third trimesters. Animal studies have also failed to find any ill effects of DEET to a fetus when applied at any stage of pregnancy.

No other active ingredient has been studied during pregnancy. For that reason, some doctors say DEET should be your go-to if you’re expecting. The EPA, on the other hand, puts no restrictions on the use of any repellents during pregnancy.

But DEET has its drawbacks, too. It can be heavy and feel oily on the skin. And it has a pungent odor. It also melts plastic, which is bad news for fishing and camping gear, synthetic fabrics like spandex, or even a nice pair of sunglasses. So, if a heightened sense of smell is keeping you from putting it on, or you don’t want it to ruin your gear or clothes, choose a different option.

Picaridin is a chemical cousin of piperine, a chemical made by black pepper plants. It's been widely used in Europe and Australia, but has only been available in the U.S. since 2005. It can be found in sprays, lotions, and wipes, including Sawyer’s Premium Picaridin Insect Repellent lotions and sprays, Avon’s Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin Pump, and Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent Fragrance Free Wipes. In recent tests, Consumer Reports gave two picaridin products top marks for repelling the species of mosquitoes that carries the Zika virus for 8 full hours.


The chemical PMD (for para-menthane-3,8-diol) is also sometimes labeled as oil of lemon eucalyptus. It’s a chemical copy of a pungent oil made by the lemon eucalyptus tree. It can be found in Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus spray and Repel Lemon Eucalyptus. In Consumer Reports’ tests, the Repel product, which contains 30% PMD, kept mosquitos away for 7 hours.

IR3535 has been used in Europe for 20 years, but was only registered in the U.S. in 1999. It’s a close chemical cousin to the amino acid B-alanine. Like DEET, it can harm plastics and synthetic fabrics. Manufacturers also warn that it can mar painted surfaces, including a recent manicure. No IR3535 products made Consumer Reports’ list of recommended repellents.

How strong should your repellent be?

Depends on how long you need it to last.

The first thing you’ll notice when you start checking labels is that insect repellents come in different strengths. You can find concentrations of DEET, for example, ranging from 4% up to 100%.

Do you really need a product that’s pure DEET? Experts say no, but you want to avoid the lowest concentrations, too. Here’s why.

After being sprayed or rubbed on the skin, the active ingredients in repellents begin to evaporate, creating a chemical cloud -- or "vapor barrier" -- that hovers around you and keeps mosquitoes at bay.

It takes a concentration of about 20% DEET to create a strong-enough barrier, especially in an area that has a lot of mosquito-borne diseases. Higher concentrations help the barrier last longer. But that protection maxes out around 50%. Any more than that exposes you to more chemical, but doesn’t provide more protection.

(Dr. T advises NOT to use DEET over 30% strength in children.)

A product with 20% to 50% DEET should give you 6 to 13 hours of protection, depending on weather conditions.

Repellents with 30% PMD or oil of lemon eucalyptus keep mosquitoes away for 4 to 6 hours.

Products with at least 20% picaridin last for about 6 hours.

And repellents with at least 20% IR3535 work for 7 to 10 hours, but they don’t work as well against the species of mosquito that carries malaria. So, pick another kind of active ingredient if you’re going to an area where that’s a problem.

Time-released lotions use a lower concentration of active ingredient, but they can protect you longer.

What about natural or homemade repellents?

When fighting mosquitoes, “natural” is not the way to go. In recent tests, Consumer Reports found that four repellents made with essential oils of citronella, clove, lemongrass, or rosemary failed to keep the bloodsuckers at bay for even an hour. (PMD, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, is not considered “natural,” since it’s a chemical copy of the oil.)

Other home remedies to be wary of include Listerine, which may give you minty fresh breath but doesn’t block mosquitoes if you rub it on your skin, and garlic pills or B vitamins, since there’s no evidence they offer any protection.

Spray vs. lotion

Sprays work faster, says Joseph Conlon, a technical advisor for the American Mosquito Control Association.

“Lotions will take approximately 20 minutes to allow the concentration of repellent layer above the skin to exert its effect,” he says.

But lotions can have other advantages. Some have time-released ingredients so that a lower concentration of active ingredient can offer longer protection, which reduces a person’s chemical exposure, too.

Guarding against the sun and bugs at the same time?

A few studies have shown that using a bug repellent with a sunscreen can make both products less effective. But sometimes you need both. So, what do you do?

The CDC suggests starting with sunscreen, then putting mosquito repellent over it. Keep in mind that you may need to reapply the sunscreen more often than you normally would and that your bug spray may wear off more quickly than expected.

The CDC says it’s not a good idea to use products that combine a sunscreen with a repellent, since sunscreens need to be reapplied more often than repellents. Using a combination product frequently could result in higher-than-needed doses of repellent chemicals.

Do I really need a new bottle?

Maybe not. But before you fish out the rusty can you keep stashed with the camping gear, keep in mind that most products are optimally effective for 3 years after you buy them, according to S.C. Johnson, the company that makes OFF. And that’s only if they haven’t been exposed to extreme heat or cold. Most products will continue to work after that, but they may not last as long.

Is it safe to put insect repellents on kids?

Yes. Products with DEET can be used on babies older than 8 weeks of age. Picaridin is considered safe for kids over the age of 2, and products with PMD/oil of lemon eucalyptus are considered safe for kids older than 3. There’s no safety data on the use of IR3535 for kids.


Be sure to read the directions before applying. One survey found as many of a third of parents apply insect repellents incorrectly. A few “don’ts”:

· Don’t apply to kids’ hands, since they often put them in their mouths.

· Don’t apply before kids get dressed. Insect repellents should only be used on exposed skin and clothing. It doesn’t do any good to use it under clothing.

· Don’t forget to wash off at the end of the day with soap and water. It’s not a good idea to sleep with repellents on, since this increases the absorption of the chemicals.

Why didn’t my repellent work?

According to experts, the No. 1 reason repellents don’t work is because they were put on incorrectly, so read the directions and apply thoroughly.

“Most repellents have pretty clear instructions on the label about how to apply them, but people never, ever read the label,” says Jonathan Day, PhD, a professor at the University of Florida’s Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, FL.

If you did everything correctly and you still came home covered in bites, there might be another explanation.

There’s emerging science to suggest that mosquitoes can become resistant to DEET and perhaps other insect repellents, too.

James Logan, PhD, is the director of ArcTec (Arthropod Control Product Test Centre) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the U.K.

He applied DEET to a human arm and then let a cage full of mosquitoes approach to feed on it. Most mosquitoes stayed away, but 13% of the females weren’t repelled by the DEET. He captured and bred those mosquitoes and then repeated the experiment with their daughters. In the next generation, about half of the mosquitoes weren’t repelled by DEET.

In another set of experiments, he unleashed the bugs to a human arm covered in DEET. Then he waited 3 hours and exposed those same mosquitoes to a DEET-covered arm again. On the second try, more than twice as many mosquitoes landed and fed as they had the first time, suggesting that they had somehow gotten used to it.

“They can become resistant through genetics and behaviorally as well,” Logan says.

He’s quick to point out that his experiments were done in a carefully controlled lab, and not in a house or backyard. Researchers don’t know if mosquitoes in the wild are becoming resistant to DEET.

“What we don’t know is whether this is occurring in the field. Nobody has ever looked at it,” he says. He’s working to answer the question now.

It’s possible, he says, that people might need to use two different kinds of repellents at the same time to boost their effectiveness.

The point is that repellents should be used. They should be recommended. There should be no scare mongering about the fact that DEET may fail. That is not necessarily the case. As scientists, we need to be monitoring the situation and staying one step ahead of the game, and not making assumptions that it will be OK. Mosquitoes have a very good way of being one step ahead of us and finding a way 'round the tools we have to control them.”


Amy Stead, spokesperson, Sawyer Products, Bellevue, WA.

James Logan, PhD, director, ArcTec, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, U.K.

Joseph Conlon, technical advisor, The American Mosquito Control Association, Mount Laurel, N.J.

Jonathan Day, PhD, professor, The Florida’s Medical Entomology Laboratory, The University of Florida, Vero Beach, FL.

Alpern. Medical Clinics of North America, 2016.

Stanczyk, N., BMJ, Feb. 19, 2015.

CDC: "Insect Repellent Use and Safety."