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In addition to being unpleasant, insect bites can lead to a variety of health problems, some of which can be serious. In fact, the West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, and ticks transmit Lyme disease. Adequate protection is therefore important.
The best way to protect yourself is to avoid being bitten.
To reduce your risk, you can take steps to prevent bug bites, such as:
Repellents help reduce the risk of mosquito and tick bites but are not effective against bees, hornets and wasps.
Choosing a repellent:
There are many products available in Canada. Choice is based, among other things, on the person's age, required duration of protection and product efficacy. Speak to your pharmacist for further advice.
|Products||Duration of protection||Minimum age|
|10% DEET||3 hours||6 months|
|20% DEET||5 hours||12 years|
|30% DEET||6 hours||12 years|
|10% Icaridin||5 hours||6 months|
|20% Icaridin||7 hours||6 months|
|10% Lemon eucalyptus oil||2 hours||3 years|
Certain products are not advised because there is insufficient evidence to support their efficacy, because of their short duration of action or because they may be harmful. Here are a few examples:
If the insect has a stinger, remove it as soon as possible to minimize any local reaction. Afterwards, wash the area with soap and water to prevent infection. You may apply ice or cold compresses to relieve any pain or inflammation. Medications such as analgesics, which relieve pain (e.g., Tylenol or Advil), antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl, Reactine) and calamine lotion, which help to reduce inflammation and itchiness, can be used. Do not hesitate to speak to your pharmacist.
If a severe allergic reaction occurs, a dose of epinephrine (e.g., Epipen) may be necessary. Your pharmacist can show you how to self-inject. If such a reaction does occur, get emergency treatment as soon as possible. Wearing a Medic Alert bracelet or carrying a card advising others that you are allergic to stings is also advised.
See a doctor if any of the following symptoms develop:
For more information:
Insect repellents - Government of Canada
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.