Health organizations are warning people to take extra care protecting themselves from mosquitoes this March. There are growing concerns that the mosquito-borne Zika virus will spread from Central and South America into the southern portions of the U.S. Because the Zika virus is connected with severe birth defects, pregnant women need to protect themselves more than anyone.
But many pregnant women are understandably concerned about using products on their skin that may cause adverse reactions or contain chemicals. Bug repellent falls squarely into both of these categories.
There are a lot of ways that pregnant women can protect themselves from mosquitoes, but there are also a lot of confusing misconceptions. Keep reading for a list of bug repellent dos and don’ts to practice this spring and summer.
The Dos and Don’ts of Using Insect Repellent During Pregnancy
Eliminating mosquitoes around your property and minimizing your time outdoors during peak mosquito hours (dawn and dusk) are essential steps to avoiding bites. But sooner or later you’ll have to venture out where mosquitoes might be buzzing around.
Insect repellents are safe for pregnant women to use according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). However, they have to be used properly to avoid potential problems.
Do Follow the Instructions
The CDC has noted that repellents are safe when they are used as recommended. That means the safety rating goes out the window with the mosquitoes if the instructions aren’t followed exactly.
Do Apply Just Enough
Often, people go overboard with bug repellent. They heavily saturate their skin thinking it will provide better protection. In actuality, it’s not providing any extra benefit. On the flip side, some people forget to reapply bug repellent, which should be done every two-four hours.
Do Take a Shower as Soon as You Get Home
It’s a good idea to take a shower or bath when you get home to wash off the residual bug repellent. Use a mild soap and warm water to gently remove the product.
Don’t Use DEET Products Too Frequently
DEET is the number one active ingredient in the majority of bug repellents. It’s registered by the EPA as a chemical that can repel insects, and it’s FDA-approved as a safe method for keeping bugs away. Although there have been very few cases of toxic reactions associated with DEET, it’s still recommended that pregnant women limit the use of products that contain DEET. If you will only be outside for a few hours, you can use a product with low concentrations of DEET. A concentration of just 6.65% will provide about two hours of protection.
Do Look for Alternatives to DEET
Because there is a slim chance that DEET could cause adverse reactions, pregnant women may want to look for bug repellent alternatives if they are going to be outside a lot. Picaridin is another long-lasting bug repellent that is EPA-approved. Two other alternatives that are safe (but don’t last as long) are citronella and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Don’t Apply to Skin Under Clothing
Bug repellent only needs to be applied to exposed skin. However, if you’re wearing loose clothing it’s usually fine to apply repellent under the edges of clothing just in case.
Don’t Apply Insect Repellent to Cuts, Wounds, or Rashes
Experts agree that no one should put bug repellent on open cuts, wounds, or irritated skin. It’s better to cover these areas with bandages to keep them protected.
Don’t Apply Bug Spray Repellent Directly to Your Face
If you apply spray repellent directly to your face, there’s a good chance it will get in your eyes and mouth or be inhaled. Instead, spray it into your hand and then apply it to your face.
It’s also important to take proactive steps to minimize the mosquito population around your property, especially if you live in Alabama where the climate is conducive for mosquitoes. Vulcan Termite and Pest Control Inc. offers custom mosquito treatments that address the issues that cause mosquito populations to grow. Give us a call today to get an early start on mosquito control this spring.