Guide to Mosquitos: Understanding, Preventing and Treating Mosquito Bites
August 20th is officially Mosquito Day. This may seem like a peculiar choice for a ‘special’ day, but raising awareness of these blood sucking creatures is not only a travel problem but also a public health issue.
Everyone at PreParture, believes that understanding mosquitos and knowing how to prevent and treat a bite is an important lesson for every traveller to learn.
These buzzing pests are becoming increasingly dangerous because we now know the diseases that they can carry. In previously years Malaria was a problem, but now many of us are lucky enough to have access to treatment and a cure. We now know that mosquitos also carry and transfer illnesses such as West Nile virus, yellow fever, and dengue fever.
Let’s get clued up on all thing’s mosquito!
Another helpful post, you might like is ‘How to Prevent, Minimise and Fight Jet Lag!‘
Why do mosquitos bite?
First of all, it’s not ALL mosquitos that bite.
It is the female mosquitos that actually bite. Or more accurately females that want to lay eggs, this is because they need blood in order to lay their eggs.
The required blood can be from a human or animal, whoever or whatever they find first!
What are mosquitos attracted to?
Have you noticed that when you go on holiday there is someone that often accumulates more bites than anyone else? There are certain conditions and attributes that attract mosquitos and this unlucky person has most of them. Here are 7 things that attract mosquitos:
Carbon dioxide – A 2000 study in Africa found that mosquitos are attracted to carbon dioxide, which is what humans expel when we exhale. Mosquitos only need to be 75 feet away to sense your carbon dioxide emission.
Sweat – Perhaps the most popular trait is sweat. Scientists believe this is because mosquitos require water to reproduce. This is why mosquitos are found in humid places.
Dark clothes – Mosquitos are attracted to dark colours like black, navy, brown and indigo.
Perfumes and flavoured lotions – It is known that mosquitos are attracted to smells, most noticeably floral cents.
Alcohol – Its not the glass containing alcohol that mosquitos like, but the toxins our skins perspire when we have drunk alcohol.
Blood type – According to a 2004 study, mosquitos favoured people with blood type O, closely followed by those with type A.
Who is the biggest target for mosquitos?
A pregnant woman is likely to attract more mosquitos than any other person! This is because she now runs at a hotter temperature, carries more blood and produces nearly double the amount of carbon dioxide than other people. Sorry ladies!
What can I do to avoid mosquito bites?
There are a few things that can be done to help minimise the ‘attack of the mosquitos,’ they are as follows:
- Wear light coloured clothes at all times, night and day. Ideally, wear clothes that are white. Alternatively, if you need a touch of colour in your wardrobe choose pastel tones like light pink, beige, coral, pale green, sky blue and plum.
- If you are pregnant, we suggest not travelling to humid destinations. Instead, plan your travels to dry arid places of follow the winter season around the globe.
- Try and limit the amount you sweat. Staying in the shade where ever possible will be helpful, as will showering regularly to remove sweat, and keep the water temperature low. Another great idea is to limit or completely stop exercise that builds up a sweat, like running. Instead, workout at the gym or swim in the hotel pool.
- Reduce alcohol consumption. Order some fruity virgin cocktails, a cool refreshing soda or iced tea. Alternatively, save your alcoholic beverages for lunchtime fun, as mosquitos prefer to ‘get to work’ during the hours around dusk and dawn.
- Limit your time outdoors during a full moon, as a study in the US showed a 500% increase in mosquito activity.
- Mosquitos don’t like Marigolds. When you’re on holiday visit a flower market or florist and keep a bouquet of Marigolds in your hotel room and pin one to your shirt.
- Avoid fragranced deodorants, perfumes or sprays. Instead, purchase the fragrance-free version.
- Wear mosquito repellent bands and bracelets. They are available in a variety of colours and usually are ‘one size fits all’. They are great for both kids and adults, plus they can be worn on wrists and ankles.
- Use a mosquito repellent spray to prevent mosquito bites. But be warned that sprays often contain DEET, which is a cancer-causing toxin. For more information about the dangers of DEET, visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
What should I do if I get a mosquito bite?
On the occasion when you do get bitten the most important thing to do is DON’T scratch.
Your body naturally releases histamines when you are bitten, as it thinks the body is under attack. In addition to this you can do the following things to prevent itching, reduce the risk of infection and improve recovery time:
- Wash the bite with soap and water when you first notice it.
- An anti-histamine or anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen, can help reduce any swelling and itching. *ALWAYS read and follow the instructions on the label and ALWAYS check with your doctor before taking anything, especially if you already take medication or suffer from an illness.
- Aloe Vera lotion and camomile lotion can also soothe itching. These can be purchased at pharmacies and some supermarkets.
- 1% hydrocortisone cream could also reduce the negative effects of a mosquito bite. It is available over the counter. Places a tiny blob of the cream on to a Band Aid, then placing the Band Aid over the bite. This a great way to treat the bite as well as preventing you from scratching the bite.
- If you absolutely must scratch the bite, use the palm of your hand. Using your fingers and nails could break the skin further and transfer dirt and bacteria into the wound.
Thank you for reading the blog post, we hope you found it useful. We think you’ll also like reading:
- How to Prevent, Minimise and Fight Jet Lag!
- Travel Essentials: Sleep Aids
- How to Survive a Long-Haul Flight