Meera's Medicine Cabinet
Meera Thadani

Meera Thadani received her degrees (BSc. Pharm 1978 and, MSc. 1987) at The University of Manitoba and has been a pharmacist at The University Centre Pharmacy since 1984. Although her primary practice focus is community pharmacy, Meera has also worked in a clinical capacity in hospitals and as an educator at the Faculty of Pharmacy.


Today's Topic: BUG BITES

DID YOU KNOW?... Bugs can spread diseases which cannot be prevented or treated. Reduce your risk.

Health Canada and Centers for Disease Control
suggest the following guidelines for the prevention of bug bites.

Bugs (including mosquitoes, ticks, and some flies) can spread diseases (including Zika, dengue, and Lyme disease), many of which cannot be prevented or treated with a vaccine or medicine. Reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites. See below for special instructions to protect babies, children, and pregnant women.

Use Insect Repellent

Use Health Canada or Environmental Protection Agency, registered insect repellents that contain at least 20% DEET (Off! Deep Woods) for protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs. Other repellents protect against mosquitoes but may not be effective against ticks or other bugs:

  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD)

When using insect repellent, follow the instructions on the package and reapply as directed:

  • In general, higher percentages of the active ingredient provide longer-lasting protection. However, this increase in protection time maximizes at about 50% DEET.
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply it first, let it dry, and then apply repellent. Do not use products that contain both sunscreen and repellent.
  • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.


Consider using clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) that are treated with permethrin (an insecticide). You can buy pre-treated clothes or treat your own clothes. If treating items yourself, follow instructions carefully. Do not use permethrin directly on skin.


Cover Exposed Skin

As much as possible, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and a hat. Tuck your shirt into your pants, and tuck your pants into your socks for maximum protection. Some bugs, such as tsetse flies, can bite through thin fabric.


Avoid Bugs Where You Are Staying

Choose hotel rooms or other accommodations that are air conditioned or have good window and door screens so bugs can’t get inside. If bugs can get into where you are sleeping, sleep under a permethrin-treated bed net that can be tucked under the mattress. When outdoors, use area repellents (such as mosquito coils) containing metofluthrin or allethrin.

Prevent Bug Bites graphic

Traveling with Children

Follow instructions for applying repellent on children:

• Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old.

• Do not use products containing Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD)
on children younger than 3 years old.

• Children should not touch repellent. Adults should apply it to their hands and gently spread it over the child’s exposed skin.

• Do not apply repellent to children’s hands because they tend to put their hands in their mouths.

• Keep repellent out of the reach of children.


For babies under 2 months old, protect them by draping mosquito netting over their carrier or car seat. Netting should have an elastic edge for a tight fit.


Pregnant Women

Some infections, including Zika, can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, so pregnant women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites while traveling. In the case of Zika, because infection in a pregnant woman is linked to serious birth defects and miscarriage, CDC and Health Canada recommend that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika outbreaks(