Everyone hates mosquitoes. Their bites can cause itching and a red swelling plus, if you are in the wrong area, they can infect you with yellow fever, dengue fever, West Nile virus and Malaria – hopefully not all at once!
Apparently it is only the female, pregnant mosquitoes that bite.
For most of us, it is just the annoying bites and that high-pitched buzz in your ear just as you’re going to sleep. So what can you do to prevent bites? The following is a summary of all the advice I could find:
- Mosquitoes are more active in the morning and evening, then spend their time resting on low-lying vegetation. They are attracted to the vegetation because of the higher humidity levels, allowing them to survive daytime temperatures without drying out. So avoid the long grass or even better spend your holiday in a dry climate such as Lanzarote; I’ve never been bother by mosquitoes there.
- N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, (DEET) was originally developed by the US Army. Nowadays, DEET is the most widely used active ingredient in insect repellents. The evidence seems to show that it works, although I sprayed it all over myself and 15 minutes later was attacked and bitten by mosquitoes.
- A natural alternative is Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, which can often found as an ingredient in repellents. I haven’t tried this.
- More natural alternatives include lavender essential oil which is mild enough to be applied directly to the skin as a few drops. Other essential oils such as patchouli, citronella or lemongrass essential oils must be mixed with a carrier oil such as almond. Just 2-3 drops of oil for every teaspoon of carrier. I haven’t tried this either.
- One suggestion is that drinking cider vinegar with honey is effective. It’s a pleasant enough drink with an apple-y flavour and the effect is to make your blood taste unattractive to bugs. Worth a try.
- Johnson’s baby oil has been used successfully and, in a more perfume-like way, lemon cologne is said by some to work well. Avon Skin-So-Soft is claimed to work on a similar basis and repeated applications will not damage the skin. Not sure about this.
- Eat plenty of Marmite (Vegemite in Australia). It contains vitamin B that mosquitoes supposedly hate. Or take vitamin B supplements which will have the same effect. Not sure if this a myth, but if you like Marmite then why not eat it just in case?
- Avoid wearing aftershave as the sweet smell attracts their attention. Must try this next time.
- Apparently wearing dark, plain colours, especially electric blue, attracts the insects. So deckchair shirts next time!
- Keep a fan near your bed as mosquitoes don’t like the breeze.
- Use those plug-in repellent things – easy enough to use and might work.
- Hunt down the mosquito in your hotel room and kill it! My favourite this one.
IF, despite the precautions, you get bitten, try these suggestions to soothe the irritation:
- Make a paste of baking soda and water, using just enough water to make the paste sticky. Spread the mixture on the bites.
- Rub soap on to the bite.
- Apply an ice pack or ice wrapped in a washcloth to the bitten area.
- Use calamine lotion or a topical anaesthetic to relieve pain and itching.
- Take an anti-histamine to help with swelling or itching.
- Do not rub your inflamed skin. Soak instead of scrubbing and pat dry instead of rubbing.
- Use aloe vera gel to reduce swelling and itching.