Itching to get outside?

Summer is in full swing, as are summer nights full of fairs and festivals, camping, boating, swimming, campfires and fishing. With the large number of rainy days and nights this summer, families are itching to spend more time outside enjoying summer activities. Although many are itching to get out, many people in Ohio and the Midwest have quickly realized that after an evening outside, their body is literally itching from the nagging mosquitos and insects.

Because of the large amount of rainfall so far this summer, bugs, such as mosquitos, ticks and fleas, are heavily populating the area. This creates a larger risk for humans to contract bug bites and certain diseases the bugs carry, including the potentially dangerous Lyme disease and West Nile virus.

Why is the overabundance of rainfall leading to a rising population of bugs this year? Bugs and insects breed and repopulate in standing water. Usually the water dries up fast enough, but this year the substantial amount of water has not had enough time to dry before the next rainstorm soaks the area. Therefore, mosquitos are continuously repopulating in the standing rainwater. Standing water is all over this year, not just in ponds or puddles — it’s in your child’s sandbox, your bird bath, your pet’s water dish or your flower bed.

As the bugs occupy the standing water, the number of bug bites is significantly rising. To prevent bugs from breeding around your home or area, make sure all stagnant and standing water is removed or emptied. For example, empty the water from your rain gauge after the rainfall and remove the water standing in your bird bath or sandbox. In addition, be sure all screens on windows and doors in your home are fixed and do not allow bugs to enter. Continue enjoying the outdoors this summer without the nagging “after” itch, by beginning to practice these prevention tips and taking action on any bug bites.

Prior to going outdoors, apply insect repellent. When applying to children, be sure to use a kid-friendly spray. It is recommended for children under two months of age to not use any repellent containing DEET. Insect repellent products containing “oil of lemon eucalyptus” should not be applied on children under the age of three. When applying the repellent, apply based on the amount of time you will be spending outside. If you only plan to be outside for a couple of hours, use a repellent that contains a lower percentage of DEET (around 10-30 percent). A higher percentage of DEET is more appropriate if you plan to be outdoors for a longer period of time. In addition, be sure the bug spray is the last thing you apply to your skin to allow the scent to be on the top of your skin.

If you get stung by an insect or bug, keep an eye on the bite. Over-the-counter antihistamines, antihistamine creams and pain relievers can help reduce the itching and swelling of the bite. A cold wash cloth or ice pack can also be applied to the bite to decrease the swelling and pain. Consult your doctor or seek medical attention immediately if the bug bite causes symptoms related to an allergic reaction, including major swelling beyond the bite, nausea and vomiting, tightness in the chest or throat, or dizziness. If the bite gets bigger or does not go away over a long period of time, check with your doctor for further medical help. Do not be afraid to consult your physician if you are unsure of a bug bite.

Take the appropriate precautions to prevent the annoying mosquitos and bugs from repopulating around your home, and don’t let the bugs bite!

The writer is the chief medical officer at at Wilson Health, Sidney.