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Four TRICARE Tips To Avoid Bug Bites This Summer

Image of 4 TRICARE Tips To Avoid Bug Bites This Summer. U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clifford Roberts, 325th Contracting Squadron contracting officer, and his family, pose for a photo at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. Roberts and his family recently moved into base housing after a permanent change of station to Tyndall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anabel Del Valle)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Summer is a time for having fun outdoors. Unfortunately, you and your family aren’t the only ones having fun outside. Bugs—and bug bites—increase dramatically in the summer months. Although most bug bites are harmless, some bugs can spread dangerous diseases. For example, mosquitos can carry malaria, West Nile Virus, Zika, dengue, and chikungunya, while ticks carry Lyme and other diseases. So, it’s important to learn how to protect yourself.

To help prevent bug bites, stay safe with these tips.

1. Use insect repellent

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, using insect repellent can prevent mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs from landing on you and biting you. Make sure to follow the product instructions, especially when applying to children. If you’re also using sunscreen, apply your sunscreen first, let it dry, and then apply insect repellent.

2. Wear appropriate clothes

If you know you’re going to be out at night or hiking in woody areas, dress appropriately to prevent bug bites. Cover exposed skin as much as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.

3. Take steps to control insects inside and outside your home

Sleep in places that are air conditioned or screened against bugs. If you’ll be sleeping outdoors, use a mosquito net to protect against insects. “Choose a mosquito net that is compact, white, rectangular, with 156 holes per square inch, and long enough to tuck under the mattress,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

4. If traveling, pay attention to local risks and outbreaks

Different regions and countries pose different risks. For example, it’s good to know which bugs are common in areas you’re visiting and what diseases they spread.

Before you travel overseas, go to CDC.gov/travel to find travel notices and other health information for your destination. The CDC recommends visiting your health care provider at least a month before your trip to discuss vaccines or medicines you may need. TRICARE covers age-appropriate vaccines recommended by the CDC, so make sure you’re up to date on all routine vaccines before every trip. Depending on your travel plans, you may need other vaccines that TRICARE may not cover.

Sometimes, despite best efforts, bug bites still happen. Fortunately, you can safely treat most bug bites and stings at home. However, if you experience any serious symptoms after a bug bite, such as a rash, fever, or body aches, you can contact the Military Health System Nurse Advice Line for advice.

Remember that some activities, such as hiking, camping, and working with animals, can increase your encounter with bugs and risk for bug bites. Throughout Bug Week, learn facts about common creepy crawlers and flying pests, as well as how to prevent and treat bug-borne illnesses. Prevention is key to keep you safe and healthy.

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Last Updated: June 15, 2023
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