In warm weather, mosquitoes are a hot topic. Generally, these insect bites are just itchy and uncomfortable. In rare instances, though, mosquitoes can carry disease, such as West Nile virus, which can cause flu-like symptoms. In other cases, mosquito bites can cause a serious allergic reaction. To prevent your skin from becoming a mosquito picnic—and reduce the chances of mosquito-borne illness—limit your contact with mosquitoes as much as you can. Start by putting these pest-free pointers into practice.
Use bug spray.
Before heading outside, apply sunscreen, then bug repellent. Check bug repellent labels for active ingredients—such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, 2-undecanone, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD)—that have proven to be effective and safe, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Apply according to label directions. Avoid bug repellents with OLE and PMD for children 3 years of age and younger.
Tight-knit clothing, such as jeans and long-sleeved shirts, can act as a physical mosquito barrier. Similarly, cover baby strollers with mosquito netting.
Debug your yard.
Standing water is a mosquito breeding ground. Pour water from buckets, toys and any other open containers. Also, empty and change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week.
When to see a doctor about a bug bite
If you get munched on by mosquitoes, wash your bites with soap and water. Apply an icy compress to the area, followed by anti-itch cream to take away the itch and the red bump. Some people develop large bumps. Watson Clinic’s walk-in care facilities are ideal if you develop a skin rash, fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, swollen glands, or if you feel achy.
Sources: American Academy of Dermatology; American Academy of Family Physicians; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency