Summertime means it’s mosquito season. Not only do those pesky insects cause itchy, red welts on your skin, they can also pass viruses, like West Nile and dengue fever, from person to person.
So how can you protect your family against mosquitoes this summer? Here are a few tips:
Scientists know that mosquitoes aren’t attracted to people who are “sweeter.” In fact, research shows these little insects are more attracted to bigger people than little people, men over women, and even pregnant women over non-pregnant.
If you’re hot and sweaty, you’re also a magnet. So are people who move around a lot. If you stand still, you’re less likely to get bitten.
Everyone in these target groups are more attractive because they produce more heat and carbon dioxide. If you’re in any of these groups, you’ll want to take extra precautions.
Which methods offer the best protection? Eating bananas and garlic won’t help. Despite any myths, there’s no anti-mosquito diet that has been proven to work. Some people use vitamin B12 patches that reduce bites up to 40 percent. Still, it doesn’t prevent bites altogether.
Citronella candles offer weak benefits at best. If a breeze comes along, any protection blows with the wind. You can use citronella oil on the skin as an option. Wearing perfumes, even if they are sweet, can also act as a repellent because their oils can deter bites.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Mosquitoes love to bite when the weather is 12 to 22 degrees Celsius.[/pullquote]
Temperature and sunlight matter most. Mosquitoes love to bite when the weather is 12 to 22 degrees Celsius. When it’s below 10 degrees Celsius, mosquitoes don’t really bite. Colder evenings offer natural protection.
You’ll also want to get rid of stagnant water that collects in buckets and birdbaths, as these attract mosquitoes. Dry areas are better. Yet not all water bodies attract mosquitoes. Clean chlorinated pools and hot tubs are safe as well.
Try covering your skin with light coloured tight-knit clothing. Research shows that dark colours attract mosquitoes better than light colours, though nobody knows exactly why this is the case.
The best way to prevent getting bitten altogether is to use a bug spray recommended by experts like the Environmental Protection Agency. They have an online tool to help you find products that will work for you.
Why do bites bother us in the first place and what can we do if we are bitten? When a mosquito bites, they draw your blood and inject their saliva, which contains proteins that trigger your immune system. Your body will release histamine to fight the protein, and this is what causes itchiness and swelling.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Not everyone is affected in the same way.[/pullquote]
Not everyone is affected in the same way. While bites don’t bother some people, others will become very itchy, red and swollen around the site of the bite.
If you do get bitten, try not to scratch. Scratching causes inflammation, which will give you more of an itching sensation. If you scratch so much you break the skin, you can be at risk for infection.
There are many remedies that can help relieve symptoms. You can apply a cold compress, calamine lotion or rubbing alcohol. Honey contains natural applying antibacterial ingredients. Applying a cold tea bag or taking an oatmeal bath can offer relief, too. Over-the counter-medicines, like an antihistamine, will also work. In most cases, bites will clear up in a few days.
See a doctor if you get hives, have a hard time breathing or you feel your throat closing up. If you’re travelling, you’ll also want to see a doctor in case there’s a vaccine that can help prevent mosquito-borne diseases.