Summer Health: Preventing and Treating Mosquito Bites

It’s that time of year when we spend more time outdoors, especially in the evening and after dark. This increases our susceptibility to mosquito bites and the potential diseases they can carry. Standard mosquitoes have been known to spread various forms of encephalitis, West Nile virus, malaria, and Yellow Fever, just to name a few.

The odds are unlikely that you will contract one of these diseases; it is more likely you will deal with a nagging itch. You should still be aware of any symptoms that could indicate a more serious problem for as long as 3-15 days after the bite. Symptoms can include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, swollen glands, tremors, and muscle weakness. Consult a physician if any of these symptoms arise.

There are ways to combat mosquito attacks. Try to keep as much skin covered as possible, wearing pants, long sleeves, and socks. This can be uncomfortable in the heat of the summer, so the best method of defense is to use an effective repellant on exposed skin and clothing. The CDC advises DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and the plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus as repellants. These are the active ingredients in most common insect repellants.

In addition to using insect repellant, it is important to remember to use it during the most frequent times mosquitoes will attack. The species that carry West Nile virus are prone to activity from sundown to sun-up. When spending time outdoors after dark, it is vital to spray the body completely and surrounding areas to keep the insects away. Be particularly vigilant around wet areas, as the insects delight in damp regions.

If you do get bitten, resist the urge to scratch, as that just spreads the inflammation and increases the infected area. Antihistamines, anti-itch gels, and calamine lotion are all options to treat bites. If you prefer more natural remedies, Huffington Post compiled this list of natural alternatives.

Don’t let the mosquitoes bite!