Recently, I went to a dermatologist because I had a skin rash that was getting worse. When I showed it to him, I said it seemed to appear first around a couple of mosquito bites, probably because I’m allergic to them. I showed him my hand where I had three mosquito bites in an uneven row under the knuckles on my right hand.
As I was showing the doctor my mosquito bites, I decided that I shouldn’t be getting mosquito bites.
Yes, the dermatologist said, if you’re out weeding from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., that’s when mosquitos are out.
Tips to avoid mosquito bites
My first tip, and the most important one for me, is to avoid the hours mosquitoes are most active, at dawn and dusk. If you’re going out at those times, wear long sleeves and pants that are light colored. Apparently, colors such as red, black, and navy blue attract bugs. Thicker, tightly woven fabrics that fit loosely offer more protection than thin clothing that fits tightly. I also wear garden gloves if I’m out at dusk. At a person who writes into the night, I don’t have to worry about dawn.
Other tips include:
- Avoid using toxic insect repellants. Try oil of lemon eucalyptus, Picaridin, IR3535, and products with low concentrations of DEET. Check the bottle’s active ingredients for concentration percentages. The product should contain a maximum of 10 percent DEET, 20 percent Picaridin, or 20 percent IR3535 for children, according to the Environmental Working Group. Don’t use insect repellants on children under 3 years old. Don’t use aerosols insect repellants.
- Avoid scented products because they attract mosquitoes.
- Stay cool because mosquitoes are drawn in by pheromones released in a person’s sweat.
- Avoid anything that increases your metabolic rate which increases your CO2 production – and make you irresistible to mosquitoes. Exercising, drinking alcohol, and eating spicy food are examples.
- Stay in places with air conditioning, windows, and door screens, or sleep under a mosquito bed net.
- Install or repair and use window and door screens. Don’t leave doors propped open.
- Use air conditioning when possible. Mosquitoes need a temperature of 80°F to remain active. If warmth and humidity are removed, mosquitoes will go away. They hate cold temperatures.
- Empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out once a week any items that hold water in your yard such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
- Cover tightly any water storage containers – buckets, cisterns, and rain barrels – so that mosquitoes can’t get inside to lay eggs.
- Clean gutters regularly and make sure they drain well.
Why it’s important to avoid mosquito bites
West Nile virus is the most common virus spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People can also get sick from less common viruses spread by mosquitoes, such as La Crosse encephalitis or St. Louis encephalitis. In rare cases, these can cause severe disease or death. Most people infected don’t have symptoms, or have only mild symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting.
Dengue, Zika, and chikungunya are found in U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many infected people don’t have symptoms, or have mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and rash.
More than 1 million people die each year worldwide from diseases caused by mosquito bites.