Norman Regional Health System

Beware of Ticks warning sign in wooded area.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Bugs are back in a big way this summer.

Recent news reports have shown a rise in the number and severity of tick-borne illnesses across the country, with particularly high rates in humid climates in the Midwest, including in Oklahoma.

Bugs like ticks, mosquitoes, fleas and flies can spread diseases like Lyme disease, the Zika virus, malaria and many others. Activities like camping, hiking, visiting forested areas or farms, and working with animals can increase your chances of getting bug bites.

Review these tips before heading outside – especially into grassy or wooded areas or areas with standing water where mosquitos like to breed.

Prevention

  • Use insect repellents registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA recommends choosing insect repellents with one of these active ingredients:
    • 2-undecanone
    • DEET
    • IR3535
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) (not intended for use under age 3)
    • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
    • Picaridin
  • Wear pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toed shoes. For added protection, you can buy clothing and gear treated with the insecticide, permethrin, or you can treat clothing, boots and camping gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net if sleeping outside. Purchase a mosquito net with 156 holes per square inch. If possible, treat the mosquito net with permethrin.
  • Keep windows and doors closed in your home unless you have well-fitting screens.
  • Walk in the center of trails to avoid close contact with high grass and shrubs.
  • Perform a tick check on your clothes, gear and skin, and shower within two hours of coming inside. Ticks are often found in the armpits, groin, scalp and other hard-to-see areas. Typically, a tick must be attached to the skin for 36 to 48 hours before spreading the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease.
  • Check your pets for ticks and fleas and remove any you find. Make sure to also keep your pets up-to-date on flea and tick medications.
  • Wash your clothes in hot water if you were in an area that may have ticks. (Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.) If you do not wash clothing, put clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes.

Treatment

  • If you get a bug bite:
    • Wash the bite with soap and water.
    • Avoid scratching the bite to avoid it getting infected. (An infected bite may become red or feel warm.)
    • Apply an ice pack to reduce itching and swelling.
    • Mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with a little water to create a paste. Put the paste on the bite for 10 minutes before washing it off.
    • Use over-the-counter antihistamine or anti-itch cream.
  • If you find a tick:
    • Remove it immediately using fine-tipped tweezers. Learn how.
    • Put a live tick in alcohol or in a sealed container or bag, flush it down the toilet or wrap it in tape. DO NOT crush the tick with your fingers or another part of the body.
    • Wash your hands.
    • Clean the area with rubbing alcohol or soap and warm water.
    • See a doctor right away if you can’t completely remove the tick or if you experience a fever, flu-like symptoms, a rash or an infected bite site. (If possible, bring the tick with you to the appointment.)

In addition to protecting yourself from bugs that could spread diseases, make sure to also apply sunscreen when spending time outside and keep hydrated so you can stay healthy and safe. Please note: If using sunscreen and bug spray, make sure to apply the sunscreen first.

If you need medical advice this summer — or anytime during the year — Norman Regional has you covered. Learn more about Norman Regional Virtual Care or log on to visit with a provider today. It’s quick, convenient and only costs $55 for each visit.