The Health Dangers Of Using Bug Spray

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(Photo by Mario Villafuerte/Gettyimages)

(Photo by Mario Villafuerte/Gettyimages)

CBS Charlotte (con't)

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(CBS Charlotte) — The wonderful joys of summertime include barbecuing outside with friends, swimming and hanging out by the pool, days at the beach, and lots of outdoor fun.

There’s one aspect about being outdoors that’s far from fun — bug bites. It seems as though those pesky insects are lurking everywhere, just waiting to “take a bite out of you.”

To combat “bug attacks” many people use various brands of bug spray to ward off those annoying, itchy bug bites — but, is it possible that using bug spray may be more harmful to your health than getting bit? Yes and no.

Several insects are dangerous to the health of humans. Flies, for example, can carry nearly 100 pathogens that can cause a plethora of serious illnesses, such as Tuberculosis.

Mosquitoes, on the other hand, are known to infect humans with West Nile Virus, Malaria, and Dengue Fever. Ticks and fleas also carry their fair share of diseases.

The benefit of using bug spray is that it drastically reduces the likelihood of bug bites, however bug spray has its own set of health concerns.

Nowadays, far too many people purchase products that they believe to be safe, without thinking about the potential side effects or long term effects of using the product.

The truth is, when you use bug spray, you are applying pesticides to your skin — and anything that touches your skin, has the potential to enter your bloodstream. Pesticide use can be especially dangerous to children, and can even cause pesticide poisoning.

Most bug sprays sold in stores contains the ingredient DEET, which is highly effective in keeping bugs at bay. However, applying DEET to your skin has been shown to cause hives and rashes in sensitive individuals. Additionally, long term use of DEET has been shown to cause neurological damage, and may also cause mood changes and insomnia.

Another ingredient found in some bug sprays is Pyrethrins. Pyrethrins, also a pesticide, can cause difficulty breathing, and can alter a persons sense of balance.

(Related Article: Sunscreen: To Use Or Not To Use?)

While the use of bug spray does help prevent bug bites, and can protect you against illnesses spread by flies or mosquitoes, as with all chemical products, you should use bug spray sparingly. While it’s not as practical, especially during the summer months, wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants can also help prevent bug bites.

Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte

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