Tired of being eaten alive out on the field? Time to deal with the two most common culprits.
How To Prevent Mosquito and Ticks & Fleas Bites
A few principles can save you days, weeks...even months of pain later.
Less exposed skin means a lower chance of being bitten by insects.
Treat exposed skin with effective insect repellent to discourage pests.
Treat your clothing with an appropriate insecticide.
Check yourself thoroughly for lingering insects within 24 hours of exposure.
How To Keep Mosquitoes Away
Mosquitoes is probably one of the first insects you thought of when clicking this article. Mosquitoes have been in the news recently due to transmission of West Nile Virus and Zika Virus. You'll run into mosquitoes throughout the continental United States, luckily you can stop most of them with one chemical...
DEET - Concentrations of at least 30% will provide up to 6 hours of protection from many biting insects with a single application. Concentrations over 50% do not increase efficacy, avoid applying high-concentration DEET to your skin or equipment1. Do not allow DEET to come into contact with your eye protection as the chemical can degrade plastics. Remember to re-apply when its effectiveness decreases. Pay special attention to clothing interfaces such as shoes and socks, pant cuffs and waist, shirt cuffs, collar and waist; These should all be sprayed with DEET to help prevent pests from entering your clothing. Picaridin is a newer alternative but has proven to be less effective at repelling ticks.
How To Keep Ticks & Fleas Away
A more insidious beast, ticks can cause disease such as Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Alpha-gal induced meat allergy. Protecting against ticks requires a little more effort than mosquitoes2. While DEET does repel many ticks, a more effective chemical is called Permethrin.
Permethrin - A chemical that can be applied to your clothing, boots and gear prior to an event, the treatment can remain effective up to six washes. Permethrin is built into several military-issue uniforms and has been proven to kill biting insects on contact3. Apply Permethrin outdoors and use extreme caution when doing so as the liquid is poisonous to pets until dry4.
Inspection - If you are playing in an area with tick activity, you should thoroughly inspect yourself for ticks several times. Best practice is to remove and bag your outermost layer of clothing before leaving the event. This will help to prevent transferring ticks from your clothes to your vehicle. When you are in an appropriate place, completely strip down and bag up the rest of your clothing. Check your entire body for crawling or attached insects. Pay special attention to scalp, armpits, groin, intergluteal cleft and any skin folds. Utilize a mirror, camera, or friend/family member to visualize the harder-to-reach places on your body. The goal is to identify and remove the tick as quickly as possible, as the longer a tick remains attached the greater chance for the spread of infection.
If you should find a crawling tick try to take a picture of it for identification, then pick it up with some tissue paper and flush it. Ticks are very hard to kill by squishing them, and discarding them in the garbage gives them an opportunity to crawl back out. If you find an attached tick, use a pair of tweezers to grasp it as close to your skin as possible and slowly pull directly away from your body until the tick detaches. Do not squeeze, pinch or burn an embedded tick as this can cause them to regurgitate into your skin and increase the chance of infection. Photograph the removed tick and save it in a sealed container for diagnostic purposes.
The University of Rhode Island has an excellent Tick Identification Program where you can upload a photo of the tick and have pertinent information e-mailed to you.
Further Reading and Sources
1.Comparative Efficacy of Insect Repellents against Mosquito Bites
2.A Tick Bite Could Make You Allergic to Meat-and It's Spreading
3.Tick Bite Protection With Permethrin-Treated Summer Clothing
4.Permethrin Factory-Treated Army Combat Uniforms (ACU Permethrin)