With the warm and humid weather comes the pesky mosquito. These annoying little pests ruin outdoor activities and can potentially transmit dangerous diseases like the Zika virus, West Nile virus, and malaria.
All sorts of products and home remedies have been presented with claims to keep mosquitoes at bay, such as citronella candles, spices like garlic and cinnamon, and various kinds of oils. But there is no substantial evidence that any of these work as advertised.
Here are five tips that have been proven to help reduce the risk of being bitten by a mosquito:
Stay Away From Still Water
Mosquitoes lay their eggs near stagnant fresh water, so it’s no surprise that these insects are often found near ponds, pools, puddles, and other sources of standing water.
If you’re spending time outdoors, try to avoid these areas as much as possible. Clean up or remove any sources of water that may attract mosquitoes, such as bird baths, kiddie pools, water tanks, or areas that tend to flood or collect water after a rainstorm.
Wear Protective Clothing
When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks when outdoors. Any exposed area of skin is a potential target for a mosquito bite, so it’s best to cover up as much as you can. Thicker clothing without holes or a loose weave provides the best protection.
You can also purchase special clothing that has been pre-treated with mosquito repellent or insecticide.
Apply Insect Repellent
When used as directed, insect repellents are a safe and effective way to prevent mosquito bites. Repellents containing DEET tend to be the most effective, but if you’d prefer a plant-based option, look for products containing “para-methane 3-8, diol” (PMD), an extract from the lemon eucalyptus plant that has been demonstrated to be an effective repellent.
Follow the instructions on the product label to ensure proper and safe application.
Avoid Excess Sweating
Mosquitoes are attracted to your breath and your sweat, so if you are running around, getting sweaty and out of breath, you may be likely to get bitten. Intense physical activities may also raise your body temperature, making you more attractive to mosquitoes.
If possible, avoid strenuous activities during times when mosquitoes are most active. If you must be active outdoors during these times, take a break every so often to catch your breath and cool down.
Alcohol use may also increase your attractiveness to mosquitoes. This effect is likely related to the way mosquitoes are attracted to the resulting odors.
Use an Outdoor Fan
You may have noticed that you tend to be less affected by mosquitoes during windy weather. This is likely because of the way moving air disperses your body odors that attract the insects.
By installing an outdoor fan near areas where you’ll be spending time outdoors, you can create a windy environment that will make it more difficult for mosquitoes to find you while also keeping you cool and comfortable.
Treating Mosquito Bites
If you do happen to get bit by a mosquito, avoid scratching the itch, as this may break the skin and increase your risk of developing an infection.
Clean the area with soap and water and use hydrocortisone cream or antihistamine to relieve the itching sensation. You can also use a cold compress to reduce swelling. Aloe vera gel can help the healing process.
If you feel sick or the bite area looks unusual, see a doctor immediately about potential infection.