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Celebrate summer without the bug bites

May 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
One way to celebrate summer is to head for the great outdoors. While you may remember the sunscreen, you might not think about bug bites until you're covered with them.When 4-year-old Kai Jones went out on a morning hike with his mom, his short pants revealed tiny bugs love to bite him.

He's got all the bug bites right now, but it's always last minute and I always forget to put the block on and all that stuff," said Michie Jones, Kai's mother.

"We're wearing shorts, we're wearing flip flops ... So anything that's on the ground will just hop up and bite you then," said Dr. Shirley Chi, Dermatologist.

Dr. Chi says if you have bug bites, the worst thing you can do is scratch.

"If you have a large red area, and you start getting a fever and you start feeling like you're getting chills ... These are signs of a worse infection," said Dr. Chi. "In that case I would call your doctor and be seen."

Bugs often go for the arms and legs because they're exposed. So besides wearing long sleeves and pants, the best thing to do is to also wear an insect repellant on the exposed parts of the body.

The most common and most effective repellent for fleas and mosquitoes is DEET. But it needs to be reapplied every one or two hours, just like sun screen.

"If you can't smell it anymore, it's probably time to reapply," said Dr. Chi

Many DEET products aren't recommended for infants, so Dr. Chi recommends long sleeves and tucking long pants into socks.

Insect Shield is a new line of shirts, hats and pants infused with a different chemical repellent called permethrin. The chemical is guaranteed for up to 70 washings. Dr. Chi says the chemical works for fleas and mosquitoes, but it is most effective against ticks.

A tick causes raised, red bumps around the bite. Usually a tick has to be attached to your body for 24 hours before it can do any damage and before it can cause an illness. So, for diehard campers, or people going into endemic areas, Insect Shield may be ideal. But insect repellent clothes might be overkill for a morning hike in the canyons.

Experts say for everyday safety, simply protect your baby's legs with at least long pants.

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