Summer Safety – Bug Bites/Ticks/Poison Ivy

Planning to spend time outside means planning to spray yourself and your kids with insect repellent — repellents don’t kill insects, but they can help reduce bites from mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other bothersome bugs.

  • There are different types of repellents: Use insect repellents containing DEET on kids sparingly. Never use repellent on
  • As we discussed last month, Tick season is generally April through October,
  • Outdoorsy types aren’t the only ones who need to worry about ticks — you could pick one up in your own yard while gardening or playing outside.
  • Prevent  tick bites and tick-borne illnesses with these four steps:


It’s smart to wear light-colored clothing and shoes during the summertime because they help keep you cooler — and, as it turns out, they help you spot any ticks that may be crawling on you. Also, although it won’t win you any fashion awards, tucking your pant legs into your socks can help minimize ticks crawling up your legs or into your shoes.


Insect repellents that contain DEET can reduce your chances of tick bites. DEET products may be applied directly to exposed skin and to clothing, but should be used sparingly on kids — look for products with about 20 percent DEET concentration, and apply it to your child’s body, avoiding his or her face and hands.

Know Your Enemy

Ticks like to hang out in grassy or wooded areas, and they are especially fond of places that are moist or humid.


Be Vigilant with Tick Checks

Do a tick check on everyone in the family every night. Contracting a tick-borne illness can take up to 36 hours if a tick isn’t removed, so you want to be prompt and thorough. The CDC recommends you check under the arms, between the legs, around the waist, inside the navel, and don’t forget the hairline and scalp.

Tick removal isn’t complicated but there is a technique. Use fine-tipped tweezers, not your bare fingers, to detach the tick. Hold the tick in the tweezers (get as close to the skin as you can) and pull upwards. Be as steady as you can, as twisting and turning could cause the tick’s mouth to break off under the skin (if that happens, use your tweezers to remove it). That’s it — it’s out! Disinfect the area and you’re done.


Poison Ivy

Poison ivy, as well as poison oak and sumac, contains an oil called urushiol, which when it comes in contact with skin, causes an allergic reaction in about 85 percent of the population. The subsequent rash that develops will only appear where the skin came in contact with the plant’s oil — and luckily, it isn’t contagious, but it can spread through indirect contact (such as petting a dog that has run through poisonous plants).

Symptoms of a poison ivy rash may include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Redness or red streaks
  • Small bumps or hives


Things to remember:

  • It’s the oil from the leaves of these plants that cause the potential allergic reaction.
  • Consider wearing protective clothing to help decrease the amount of exposed skin.
  • Learn how to recognize what poison ivy, oak and sumac look like, so that they can be avoided.
  • Avoid bushy, overgrown areas and places which may contain these plants. Try to stay on paths.
  • Blisters that drain fluid when popped

The only way to avoid developing the rash is to avoid contact with these poisonous plants, but wearing clothing that covers a good amount of skin will help reduce your risk. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends home treatment for mild cases, including cool showers and oatmeal baths. If itching and swelling become moderate to severe, prescription medications can be used to reduce symptoms.