Protect yourself (and your kids) from ticks

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Ticks are most active during warmer months (April through September) in Southeast Missouri, but exposure can occur anytime of the year. Prevention of tick bites and tick-borne illnesses will keep you safe as you enjoy summertime activities.

Physical clothing barriers and insect repellents are some of the best tools to protect against tick bites. Long pants, a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, socks and closed shoes are best to avoid tick bites in heavily infested areas.

Do not use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays because they may attract insects. Bright colored and flower print materials may attract insects as well.

Adults and children should pretreat clothing and outdoor gear with 0.5% permethrin. It can remain protective through several washings.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-methane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone on the skin and body.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old. Repellents should not contain more than 30% DEET when used on children.

Avoid sunblock/repellent mixtures, as these can cause overexposure to chemicals from reapplication. Furthermore, OLE and PMD should only be used on adults.

Some natural tick repellents and pesticides include: 2-undecanone from the essential oil of wild tomato plants, garlic oil, mixed essential oils (rosemary, lemon grass, cedar, peppermint, thyme, and geraniol), nootkatone, and fungus (Metarhizium brunneum/anisopliae). Refer to the CDCs website for further information on proper use of oils.

After being outdoors, check clothing, skin, gear and pets for ticks that can be carried into homes and conduct a full body check.

Fever, chills, aches and pains in the muscles, headache and fatigue are all symptoms experienced with tickborne diseases.

A distinctive rash may appear with Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), ehrlichiosis and tularemia.

Some symptoms may present within three to 30 days post tick bite. Contact your health care provider if any of these symptoms appear.

Jennifer Baker, Pharm. D, is a pharmacist at MediCenter Pharmacy in Sikeston