Have a Bug Bite-Free Summer

By Clifford W. Bassett, MD FACAAI, FAAAAI Medical Director, Allergy & Asthma Care of NY Follow Dr. Bassett on Twitter @allergyreliefny.

Posted on | By Clifford W. Bassett, MD FACAAI, FAAAAI | Comments ()

It’s that time of the year again, when hungry pests such as mosquitoes and ticks are looking for their next meal. This is especially true if you live in some of the countries buggiest cities!  A recent survey found the top bite-prone places are the south, including coastal Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas.

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Let’s start with the good news first. In most cases, mosquitoes are just plain annoying, and not seriously harmful. However, we need to pay close attention to the spread of West Nile Virus infection, which has raised the risk of a serious problem for many of us, particularly in endemic areas. The most problematic bug bite this summer comes from ticks: deer ticks in the northern US and Lone Star ticks in the south and west. Oftentimes, contain Lyme disease bacteria, which can make you quite sick.

There are many great tactics to take to prevent bug bites this season. Here are some common mosquito-bite prevention strategies:

  • Cover your exposed arms and legs with long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Use a good fan to reduce the likelihood of pesky mosquitoes from landing on prime biting surfaces … you!
  • Keep windows closed with air-conditioning on to keep them out.
  • Make sure your screens on windows and doors are in good shape.
  • Consider wearing mosquito-resistant clothing that may contain chemical repellents.
  • Try to eliminate standing water that can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
  • Use an appropriate insect repellent (chemicals such as DEET, pyrethrum) as well as natural botanical oils, such as oil of lemon eucalyptus.  Always follow instructions on the label, especially for children, and apply in a well-ventilated area.  The concentration of a repellent will dictate how long it is effective in providing bite protection.
  • Avoid being outside at prime biting times such as dawn and dusk.
  • Take a shower; body odor can be an attractant to mosquitoes.

Ready for a twist? You can, in fact, be “allergic” to mosquitoes!  In fact, some individuals may suffer from Skeeter's Syndrome, an allergic reaction to mosquito bites that makes bites redder, puffier, swollen and& sometimes painful. If you've ever thought your bites looked or felt worse than others, you may have Skeeter’s Syndrome. Take an allergy test with your doctor to help pinpoint the cause. 

Article written by Clifford W. Bassett, MD FACAAI, FAAAAI
Medical Director, Allergy & Asthma Care of NY