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Protect Yourself With Insect Repellents

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Protection from Lyme disease, West Nile virus and other insect-related diseases is just a spray away. Here's what you should know about insect repellents.

No one likes pesky mosquitoes or ticks. They can be more than just a nuisance, though. They also carry diseases like West Nile virus and Lyme disease. But, there's an easy way to fight back against insects, and it comes in a can.

Insect repellents are the best protection available against West Nile virus and Lyme disease and other insect-related diseases. They're easy to use and affordable. Yet only about half of people use insect repellents.

Insect-related diseases
Some insect-related diseases are mild and go away on their own without treatment. But sometimes mosquito or tick bites can cause long-term health problems or be deadly. All of these diseases can be prevented with insect repellent.

Common tick-borne diseases in the U.S. include:

Lyme disease. Symptoms appear within three to 30 days of the tick bite. They include a red bull's-eye rash at the site of the bite, low-grade fever, fatigue and body aches. Serious cases can lead to neurological problems, meningitis and arthritis.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Signs start within two days to two weeks of the tick bite. Symptoms can include a sudden onset of chills, fever, muscle pain, severe headache and a rash that starts on hands, wrists, ankles and feet. It can be treated with an antibiotic.

Mosquitoes can spread:

West Nile virus. Mosquitoes transmit this virus from birds to humans. Many people infected with West Nile virus don't have any symptoms. In some, flu-like symptoms come on three to 14 days after getting bit by the mosquito. People of all ages can become sick from West Nile virus, but it can be more serious in people older than 50.
Encephalitis. Encephalitis is swelling of the brain. There are several different types of infection. Signs can range from mild flu-like symptoms, diarrhea or vomiting to serious illness and death. Children and seniors are most likely to get serious bouts of the illness.

When to use repellents
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests using insect repellent whenever you are outside. Mosquitoes are most active during dawn and dusk, so be extra diligent using repellent at those times or consider staying indoors.

How they work
The female mosquito is attracted to our breath and sweat. Some insect repellents help to mask these scents. Others, like permethrin, actually contain an insecticide.

Types of repellents
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says these active ingredients are effective at repelling insects and are safe to humans. Check the label of your repellant for one of these ingredients:

DEET. DEET is the most widely used insect repellent. It is recommended to help prevent Lyme disease as well as diseases carried by mosquitoes. It's very effective and comes in sprays, liquids and lotions.
Picaridin. Picaridin is also very effective. Some people prefer it to DEET because it's nearly odorless.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus. This plant-based repellant gives similar protection as a low concentration of DEET.
IR3535. Like oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535 is a biopesticide repellent, meaning it's made from natural materials.
Permethrin. This repellent is applied to clothing, shoes and camping equipment - but not to your skin. Clothing containing permethrin is available at sporting goods stores.

Choosing a product
Consider the amount of time you plan order apcalis to spend outdoors. In general, the higher the concentration of an active ingredient, the longer the repellant will work. For example, a product containing 4.75 percent DEET will provide protection for about an hour and a half. A product with 23.8 percent DEET works for about five hours. Products with concentrations above about 50 percent do not give any added protection.

Use repellents safely
When applying repellents, follow these guidelines:

Follow all label directions.
Cover exposed skin and clothing. Don't apply under clothing.
Don't apply to cuts or open skin.
When you return indoors, wash your skin with soap and water.
To apply repellant to your face, first spray on hands and then carefully rub on your face. Avoid your eyes and mouth. Apply repellant to children's faces the same way.
Do not use insect repellents containing DEET on children younger than 2 months of age.
Don't apply repellent to children's hands.
Don't let children apply their own repellant. Keep it out of their reach.
If you have a reaction, wash the repellent off and call your local poison control center.

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