Student News

Protecting Against Insect Bites and Sun Burns

Bryant Benson – April 25, 2017

Dear Deerfield Community,

I want to highlight a few items worth discussion for the warmer days ahead, namely protecting against insect bites and avoiding sunburns.

Ticks: There are several types of ticks that you might encounter, but the one that receives much of the attention in the Northeast is the deer tick. It can range in size from a pin point to a few millimeters which makes it difficult to see.  These ticks will cling to the tops of grass or brush hoping to catch a ride with an animal, but they’ll be just as happy to catch a ride with you!!  So walking in the woods or sitting on the grass will increase your likelihood of exposure.  These ticks feed off blood and can spread Lyme disease (although the tick needs to be embedded for at least 24 hours for this to occur).

Mosquitos: In addition to ticks, mosquitoes not only cause irritating bites, but in the northeastern United States can also transmit Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus.  These illnesses are rare but important to be aware of as they can be significant.

For both tick and mosquito prevention,

  • Use an appropriate insect repellent that contains DEET. This should be reapplied every 4 hours as needed
  • Wear long sleeve shirts and pants when possible. Try a bold new look and tuck you pants into your socks!
  • Be aware and take extra precautions in the evening when mosquitos tend to bite more often.
  • Keep an eye out for ticks trying to hitch a ride on you, your clothes or shoes when out in the woods or fields
  • Use the repellent Permethrin on your clothes (do not put permethrin on your skin, just your clothes)

For ticks,

  • Do “tick checks” nightly, especially if you have been hiking, camping, sitting/lying on the ground or walking through high grass. Check your entire body.
  • Take a shower after hanging out in the woods or fields.
  • If you find a tick, don’t panic and don’t start picking at it or trying to remove it. Please come to the Health Center as soon as possible and we will remove it appropriately (it’s okay to call Security for an escort after curfew). After removing the tick, we may give you a prophylactic dose of antibiotics to help prevent Lyme disease if we think the tick has been attached for > 24 hours.

Some additional resources for your review:

http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/id/epidemiology/ticks/public-health-cdc-tickborne-lyme-faq.html

http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/id/epidemiology/providers/public-health-cdc-arbovirus-info.html

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites

Burns: As the sun gets higher in the sky and the days get longer, the risk of an unhealthy level of sun exposure increases. Damage to the skin from the sun can be insidious (skin cancers) or acute (sunburns).  Try to limit sun exposure during the late morning to mid-afternoon, consider long sleeve shirts when possible and please use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.  Don’t forget that the type of sunlight that causes sunburns (UV light) penetrates cloud cover so wear sunscreen even on cloudy days. Please read the additional information here.

As always, do not hesitate to stop by the Health Center if you have further questions or concerns.

Take care,

Dr. Bryant “Bear” Benson
Director of Medical Services
Deerfield Academy Health Center
413-774-1600