Bzzz! Prevent mosquito bites

Photo: CDC.

Photo: CDC.

Summer means spending more time outdoors—hiking, camping, picnicking, entertaining in the garden or on the patio, heading to the foods fests and music concerts. If conditions are right—like prolonged warmth and high humidity—summer also means the buzzing of mosquitoes ready for a bite!

Mosquitoes love me. Whenever they get me, they get me good. I don’t get those red itchy bumps—I get four, five, six or more growing welts that pulse with pain. It ain’t a pretty sight, and it ain’t a good feeling at all.

Here are some simple steps from the Mayo Clinic to prevent mosquito bites when you’ve got to be outdoors and increase your risk for a zap.

  • Use insect repellant. According to the Mayo Clinic, most insect repellants you can get from the drugstore or favorite big-box retailer like Target or Wal-Mart have one of three main ingredients to stop mosquitos from thinking you’re a yummy buffet—DEET, picaridin or KBR 3023, oil of lemon eucalyptus. The more of the ingredient is in the repellant, the longer it will protect you from bites. Only apply repellant to exposed skin and wash it off with soap and water when you’re back indoors.
  • Treat your clothing or outdoor gear. Permethrin is a bug killer that can be applied to your clothes or outdoor equipment like tents, sleeping bags, and other cloth-covered things you use. You can also get this insect repellant from the drugstore or favorite big-box retailer.
  • Wear protective clothing. If you’re not going to use insect repellant—because many of us don’t like the idea of covering ourselves with chemicals— this is probably the best advice for you. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Wear socks. And when it comes to clothing, color helps. Lighter colors offer better protection.
  • Reduce mosquitos around your home. You can stop an infestation by getting rid of standing water—pools of water, of any amount, are great breeding grounds for mosquitos. Empty out anything that collects water. Overturn pots and containers outdoors so that water can’t pool.

If you get bitten, there are topical treatments that you can purchase at any drugstore or big-box retailer. Look for hydrocortisone or calamine. Oral antihistamines are also an option. You can find them as Benadryl or diphenhydramine, Claritin or loratadine, Zyrtec or cetirizine. Read the directions and follow them as instructed.

As always, it is best to consult your physician when possible regarding prevention of mosquito bites and treatments after getting bitten.

Gerald Farinas

About Gerald Farinas

An Edgewater Beach resident, Gerry is managing editor and interim editor-in-chief of Chicago Phoenix. He is concurrently a social services professional and media consultant. For more info: www.geraldfarinas.com.

There is one comment

  1. DrTerry

    This is not my website but one I recommend. I discourage my patients from ever using DEET or other synthetic pesticides directly on their skin. Contrary to popular belief, there is ample evidence that repeated exposure to synthetic pesticides creates causal factors for health issues such as Autism, Asthma, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, etc. I instead recommend Greenbug as it is effective, natural and safe. The active ingredient is a food-grade essential cedar oil and it works against mosquitoes. The only caution is if you are allergic to cedar, do not use Greenbug. Otherwise, I enthusiastically recommend Greenbug for all my patients for repelling mosquitoes.

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