If you think that you are
itching more this year, it is probably because you are. The very
wet spring we had earlier this year created a healthy environment
for plants to grow and bugs to thrive.
Among these healthy growing plants, of course, is poison ivy and
oak. According to a study published in Environmental Health
Perspectives the reason for the healthy growth of these
monster sized poison plants is that there are higher CO2
levels in the atmosphere. From our experience, whenever we have a
very wet spring poison ivy and poison oak plants seem to flourish.
Whatever the reason, they are healthy and thriving.
Wet weather also brings on the mosquitoes. Humidity mixed with
summer heat provides the perfect environment for them to live. If
you have been enjoying the outdoors and you feel like you have more
bug bites, it's probably because you do.
So how do you stay itch free? Here are some tips to avoid these
- Learn how to identify poison ivy and oak so you can try to
avoid the plants. See our poison plant
identification page for reference images.
- Wash with a cleanser, like Tecnu, upon returning indoors to remove any
poison plant oil, called urushiol, from your skin. Remember to
clean any gear, pets or clothing that may have come in contact with
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET to repel biting and
stinging insects. The percentage of DEET necessary depends on the
length of time you will be exposed outdoors. A general rule is for
every 10% of DEET, you will get 1 hour of protection. See
our insect repellent information page.
- Avoid being outdoors at dusk when insects, like mosquitoes, are
most active and avoid areas with standing water where they
- If you are walking through a wooded area, or area with tall
grasses, wear a long sleeve shirt and tuck your pants into your
socks to keep the insects out.
- Use fewer scented products when you will be outdoors as some
insects are drawn toward fragrances.
- If you do get a rash or insect bite, don't scratch. Use a
topical OTC product like Calagel to stop the itch. Scratching can cause
breaks in the skin which can lead to skin infections.
How do you avoid these pests during the summer? Feel free to
share your thoughts with us.