If you're heading off to a warm, sunny vacation sometime soon, you may need to be thinking about how to protect yourself from the Zika virus, which has emerged as a major health concern in certain areas of the world.
The key, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine expert Crystal Aguh, is to keep the mosquitoes away. Aguh, an assistant professor in the School of Medicine's Department of Dermatology, provides the following tips:
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, treated, if possible, with permethrin.
- Apply Environmental Protection Agency–approved insect repellent to areas of exposed skin. Mosquito repellents containing DEET are considered the most effective. Insect repellants that contain ingredients such as oil of citronella, picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus also provide protection.
- When using sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first.
- Insect repellent containing a concentration of 30 percent DEET provides protection for two to four hours; higher concentrations can last up to six hours.
- Be sure to reapply insect repellent if you will be outside for an extended period of time or if you are engaging in water activities.
- Remove insect repellent by washing treated skin thoroughly with soap and water.
- For children: Do not use insect repellent with a concentration of more than 30 percent DEET. Avoid hands, eyes, mouths, and cut or irritated skin. Note: Insect repellents are not recommended for children younger than 2 months.
- For pregnant women: Insect repellent containing DEET and picaridin are considered safe to use during pregnancy.
To learn more about protecting yourself from the Zika virus, watch this interview with Crystal Aguh or visit the JHM Zika virus information website.