Prevention and Treatment Tips
Aside from being itchy, the bites from mosquitoes can transmit serious diseases that have caused the death of millions of people. Knowing how to prevent these mosquito bites and treat them accordingly is significantly important if they are present near you.
There’s nothing worse than being rudely bothered by different insects when trying to enjoy a beautiful day outside. The worst of those pests have to be mosquitoes, and the mosquito bites that come with them.
The Nature of Mosquito Bites: Why Do Mosquitoes Bite?
Mosquitoes should be treated with caution, as they feast on human blood and rely on blood for both nutrition and reproduction. Only the female mosquito bites, but these bites can be painful, itchy, and disease-ridden.
We all know that mosquitoes bite us for our blood, but why do their bites hurt so much afterward? It’s simple. When insects (mainly mosquitoes) bite us, they inject their salvia into our skin. This saliva causes blisters, irritation, and swelling.
The level of irritation depends largely on your individual sensitivity. While some people experience just small, somewhat itchy lumps, others have huge masses of hives or wheels which can then become infected. Even worse, if you pick and itch the bites often, they tend to be much more pronounced and long-lasting.
Preventing Mosquito Bites
There are over three thousand species of mosquitoes around the world, with about two hundred types in the United States alone. The easiest way to avoid mosquito bites is to avoid mosquitoes altogether. If you have to be outside, avoid being outside at dawn and dusk, which is when mosquitoes are most active.
When you go outside, cover up with light-colored clothing, preferably those with long sleeves. Add a pair of long pants, a hat, and thick socks. Make sure clothing is loose-fitting, as this will help prevent you from becoming overheated and attracting more bugs. Try to avoid areas of standing water or brushy spots.
You’re more likely to be chewed up by bugs when you’re sweaty, like when you go for a long run outside or if it’s hot out. Try to stay as cool and dry as you can. In addition, if you are eating sweet, sugary foods outside, or wearing a sweet-smelling perfume or shampoo, you may find mosquitoes more attracted to you.
Keeping Your Home Mosquito-Free
Mosquitoes require water to breed, so make sure there isn’t any standing water around your house. Clean your gutters to remove breeding grounds. Some people are even considering using bats as natural predators to cut down on mosquito populations. Constructing bat houses on your property helps to prevent mosquitoes from reproducing, as bats are known to eat mosquitoes.
Planting flowers that are natural mosquito repellents can also help cut down on their populations. Mosquitoes do not like marigolds, as they give off an unpleasant fragrance, nor do they like to fly around plants such as lemongrass, basil, and rosemary. Consider planting these to repel mosquitoes, as well as to beautify your property!
Finally, if the mosquitoes around your home are unbearable, you can use a mosquito net. Mosquito nets are very popular in tropical nations that are home to mosquitoes harboring deadly diseases such as malaria and West Nile but can be used anywhere around the world to keep bugs out. These are especially helpful if you find mosquitoes are entering your home and harassing you at night.
Using Mosquito Sprays (But Try to Avoid Chemical Repellents)
You can also wear chemical repellents, but those containing DEET can be harmful. DEET is used in over two hundred and thirty different products and can cause damage to cell function in your brain. Children are especially at risk. This can cause problems such as memory loss, muscle weakness, headaches, and joint pain. Many bug sprays also contain permethrin. This is carcinogenic and can cause tumors and other chromosomal abnormalities. Try to avoid chemical repellents whenever possible, and use only as a last resort.
Use Herbal or Natural Mosquito Repellent
Mosquitoes also avoid several natural botanical oils and extracts. These can be just as effective as chemical methods of prevention, but with no unpleasant side effects. Popular repellents include those made out of neem oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, cinnamon leaf oil, vanilla oil, citronella soap, and catnip oil.
Catnip oil, in particular, is famous for its effects on your feline pets. However, it also contains sedative properties. It makes an effective insect repellent that is allegedly ten times more potent than other chemically, DEET-based products.
You might be able to avoid mosquitoes altogether by taking a vitamin B1 supplement in the months in which mosquitoes are active. Eating garlic may also help repel mosquitoes (as it does potential suitors!).
Neem oil is another popular, natural mosquito repellent. This has been used for hundreds of years to treat dry, damaged skin. Neem and coconut oil, when mixed with a small amount of water, can help protect you from mosquito bites for up to twelve hours. They even work against mosquitoes who carry deadly diseases, such as malaria. This is a great option for people who are sensitive to the harsh chemicals in DEET-based repellents.
Lemon eucalyptus oil is another popular treatment. It does not stimulate any adverse reactions in humans but works as a powerful insect repellent (and also smells a lot nicer than any other repellents we’ve discussed so far!).
Natural Mosquito Repellents Infographic
Treating Bites and Stings
Just as you can prevent mosquito bites with natural remedies, you can also treat bites and stings with natural methods. The goal of treating a mosquito bite is to remove the itching, stinging, and swelling that is caused.
Many herbs and other natural remedies are soothing and have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe vera, for example, contains several active compounds and amino acids that can reduce swelling and soothe your skin. Other popular herbal remedies include chamomile, calendula, cinnamon, lavender, basil, peppermint, and tea tree. Other natural remedies include lemon, lime, cucumbers, and raw organic honey.
Use any of these remedies whole or dried. You can also use cooled tea bags over your bites to reduce swelling. These act as astringents. For added relief, take a warm bath in a mixture of these herbs with additives such as apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, or baking soda.
Ice and heat can also take the sting out of bug bites. Place an ice pack on itchy or painful bites, or a lightly heated spoon. This will help relieve the pain associated with the bite and is also safe to do on broken skin. Topical steroids such as hydrocortisone aren’t necessarily good for this method, as they aren’t supposed to be used on broken skin.
The Best Mosquito Repellent and Treatment Options
Keep in mind that the best treatment and preventative method for mosquitoes will vary depending on where you live and your current state of health. For example, some pregnant women may not be able to use essential oils as a treatment or preventive measure for mosquitoes, as they can be unhealthy for developing babies.
Consider your environment and the conditions around your home. Mosquitoes can be easy to guard yourself against, but it will take some trial and error to determine the best method for your lifestyle, health, and living situation.
If mosquito problems continue to stay present around your home, consider calling a local exterminator near you.