Ask the Pharmacist
by Ron & Marla Chapleau

July 6, 2016


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Q) With the ongoing attention being cast upon Lyme Disease and the Zika Virus, what is the best way to avoid catching them short of staying inside my house all summer?

A) Lyme disease is a disease that is contracted by being bit by an infected tick; whereas the Zika Virus is spread by way of a bite from an infected mosquito. Though these illnesses have different culprits, they can both be prevented in a similar method.

While it is true that you can come into contact with a tick literally in your own backyard, it is much more prevalent in moist, humid, woody or grassy areas. We have many great trails to enjoy in Bruce County; but where you walk/ bike can matter. Be sure to try and stay in the centre of the trail rather than then closer to the edges when possible in order to reduce the risk of getting a tick.

Ticks do not jump or fly, they are small, slow and lumbering. Their only purpose is to feed. Depending on their age and species, their appearance can vary greatly. If you suspect you have a tick on you, remove it and store it for future identification if necessary. Not all ticks spread disease so if you start to exhibit symptoms after a bite, be able to provide the tick can be very beneficial towards your care. Attempting to squish or remove it with your fingers can cause it its’ body fluids (which may contain disease causing organisms) to be spread over your skin and enter into your bloodstream.

 If you do notice a tick, pull it straight out with the use of tweezers. Ticks may also attach to clothing so once you return home, inspect the clothing and remove any visible ticks and throw the clothing into the dryer for 10 minutes. It is good practice to shower within 2 hours of being in the wooded areas in order to help get rid of any unattached ticks. Ticks may also attach themselves to our furry friends, so it is important to remember to use the monthly tick prevention application on them.

While illness from the Zika Virus is generally mild in adults, it is known to cause birth defects; all of which we discussed last week. As such, pregnant women should not travel to areas where the Zika Virus is known to be spreading.

Like other mosquito borne illnesses, prevention is by far the best method to protect ourselves against both Lyme disease and the Zika Virus.

 In general, cover as much of your body as is possible by wearing a long sleeved shirt, tucked it into long pants with socks pulled up over the pants; this is considered quite fashionable when it comes to the outdoors.

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You should also consider applying a repellent containing at least 20% DEET which provides adequate protection against mosquitos, ticks and other bugs. Higher percentages of DEET do not mean stronger protection but rather a longer duration of protection. A 10% product gives 4.5 hours of protection and can be used once daily for those from 6 months of age to 2 years and three times daily from 2 – 12 years old. Stronger products can be used on 12 years of age and older; 20% provides 6.5 hours protection and the 30% up to 8 hours of protection.

Avon Skin So Soft contains icaridin as the main ingredient. The 10% product provides around 5 hours against mosquitos and 7 hours against ticks whereas the 20% product offers 7 hours against mosquitos and 8 hours against ticks.

Essential Oils are also becoming more popular but according to the Centre for Disease Control, the one botanical option extensively reviewed thus far is Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. This has been shown to provide about 2 hours of protection against mosquitos.

Often, when we require insect repellent, we also require sunscreen. It is recommended to apply the sunscreen first and allow it to dry completely before applying the repellent.


For more information on this or any other health related topics, contact the pharmacists at Gordon Pharmasave, Your Health and Wellness Destination in Kincardine and Port Elgin

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Wednesday, July 06, 2016