Preventing Lyme Disease and Other Insect Bites
Insect and tick bites can hurt, become inflamed and also transmit disease, such as Lyme disease. You can easily prevent it by following the recommendations below.
Tick Bite Prevention
Ticks are insects a few millimetres long, found especially in the fields and woods. They are found all over the world, including in Europe, Canada and the United States. When they bite, they remain attached (sometimes without causing pain) and can transmit diseases, such as Lyme disease, through their saliva.
Visit your pharmacy to determine whether you are travelling to an area with tick-transmitted diseases.
The following measures are recommended to prevent tick bites:
- Stay on the trails as much as possible and avoid grassy areas.
- After outdoor activity, change and wash your clothes to remove any ticks that could be attached.
- Wear light-coloured clothing, to make it easier to see the ticks.
- Before putting on fresh clothes, inspect your entire body to make sure there are no ticks, and watch for the appearance of lesions or tick bites on your skin.
- If pets are travelling with you, check their fur regularly to make sure they are not carrying ticks.
- The protective measures against mosquito bites also applied to ticks (long sleeves and pants, closed shoes, use of DEET, etc.).
General Protective Measures Against Insect and Tick Bites
Sprays and Hygiene
- Mosquitoes are attracted by odours. Good hygiene helps keep them away.
- Use unscented products (soap, sunscreen, etc.).
- Use insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin.
- Wear long, loose-fitting, tightly-woven clothing that is closed at the extremities and light colored.
- Wear closed shoes and a hat. You can also tape the cuffs of your pants or tuck them inside your socks, shoes or boots.
- If needed, wear mosquito net clothing (hat, jacket, pants and overalls).
- For greater protection, apply a permethrin insecticide to your clothes, shoes and other travel gear, such as tents and screens, particularly in high-risk areas for insect-borne diseases. Permethrin treatments are effective for 2 weeks even after several washes. Although permethrin is not available in Canada, your pharmacy can advise you on how to purchase permethrin and pre-treated gear.
- Stay in areas protected by screens in good repair, or in enclosed, air-conditioned areas, especially at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Check to make sure there are intact screens on the windows and mosquito net. A useful trick: Duct TapeTM – style tape can be used for repairing a damaged screen or net and thus keeping unwanted insects out.
- If you use a mosquito net around your bed when you sleep, make sure you do not leave any openings where insects could get in. For example, tuck the net under the mattress. Tuck it in as far as you can, making sure your skin is not touching the net, since insects such as mosquitos, can bite through the mesh. Some nets are treated with insecticide. These are a good choice for higher-risk destinations.
- Use a light-colored tent with intact screen to keep insects out.
- Avoid being outdoors between sunset and sunrise, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Avoid sites near streams or standing pools of water, as mosquitoes breed in these areas.
Your pharmacist can help you determine if the area you will be visiting is prone to ticks and mosquitos and will recommend the right products to protect you. He or she can also take the time to review your medication and help you assemble a first-aid kit to bring on your travels.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.