Preventing summer insect bites and rashes

With more people outdoors this summer, there's a larger chance for insect bites, poison ivy, and other summer rashes. A local dermatologist is sharing some important tips to help quiet those itches and stings.

Parks and woodlands have been filled every weekend, and many visitors aren't outdoor regulars.

Dr. Stephen Hess of Center City Dermatology says mosquitoes are more plentiful - and aggressive - in late summer so there's a greater risk for getting bit by one infected with West Nile virus.

To avoid being a target, stay indoors at dawn and dusk when the insets are more active. When you are outdoors, use a good insect repellent and empty any standing water around the house.

Ticks are also another big summertime concern and insect repellent can help. Plus check yourself and your pets every day.

What should you do if you think you've been bitten by a tick?

"It is always important to seek medical advice, because tick bites do carry some risk of Lyme disease," said Dr. Hess.

Dr. Hess has seen many outdoor novices this summer with poison ivy rashes. Most people are allergic to the oil in the leaves, stems, and roots. The oil sticks to clothing, metal yard tools, or even a pet's fur, so wash or wipe down everything when you come inside.

"If you don't wash those things, and then you go back and touch them later, you can actually get the residue in contact with the skin again and the rash can appear," he warned.

Dr. Hess also says many summertime rashes are actually allergies to the ingredients in antibiotic ointments, so if a minor irritation seems to gets worse after you apply one, call your health care provider.
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