Before Tacoma residents can go hiking this summer at Point Defiance Park Trail, one of the city’s best parks, it would be wise to apply insect repellents to keep disease-carrying bugs away. Some of these repellents contain the chemical DEET, which is effective in keeping the insects at bay. Unfortunately, the very chemical that keeps the insects away also poses health risks to humans, according to a Washington Post article by the Consumer Reports staff:
DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), first used by the U.S. Army, has been sold to consumers since the 1950s. It can cause allergic skin reactions, particularly at concentrations of 50 percent and above, and eye irritation. A 2013 analysis of about 4,000 DEET-related calls to poison control centers found that 450 people needed medical treatment after applying DEET; two died. Most cases of seizures, slurred speech, coma and other serious side effects have occurred in people who ingested DEET or applied it for three or more days in a row, or used products with 95 percent DEET or more.
Still, it’s worth noting that everyone’s biological makeup is different. This means that one person may be perfectly fine using insect repellents with DEET, while another may need to seek treatment at a Tacoma walk-in clinic for DEET dermal exposure. The important thing is to keep an eye out for symptoms indicative of health problems related to the application of products with DEET.
Locals who experience eye irritation due to DEET exposure can resolve the problem by washing their eyes with lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes. However, if the irritation persists even after the effort, they are recommended to go to a Tacoma urgent care and occupational medicine facility to be evaluated for chemical conjunctivitis.
Aside from eye irritation, contact with DEET may also lead to skin reactions like redness or rash, swelling, and itching. These problems could be treated by washing the areas at least two to three times with plain soap or water, or an alcohol-detergent solution. If the symptoms continue, reliable health care practitioners like the ones from U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group can prescribe medications to promote relief.
Hiking is certainly one outdoor activity that some Tacoma locals can’t resist. So, if they insist on hiking, they should use effective insect repellents to keep themselves safe from the disease-carrying insects. If they opt to use products with DEET, it’s best to know the proper application first from trusted medical practitioners. The latter may also be able to recommend a list of safe insect-repellent alternatives.
(Source: Chemical-based insect repellents work, but you may want to try safer alternatives, WashingtonPost.com, June 23, 2014)