The great thing about summer is that we get to spend more time outside – dining, socialising and holidaying. But summertime is when mosquitoes breed and feed. Here’s your summer guide to avoiding run-ins with mozzies, and some tips on how to stop the itch.
Mosquitoes usually make their appearance around dusk and dawn, but you can be bitten day and night. When trying to avoid being bitten, remember this rule: cover up, clean up, repel and deter.
Try to wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing that covers as much of the body as possible. Mozzies are attracted to darker colours and are able to bite through tight-fitting clothing, such as leggings and jeans.
Mozzies lay their eggs in still water, so make sure to empty water for open containers such as pet drinking bowls, flower vases, rainwater tanks and bird baths in and around your home.
Use an insect repellent containing DEET (diethyltoluamide) or picaridin. Make sure to use caution with chemical sprays, especially when using near the face, around children and indoors. When outdoors, mosquito coils can also be effective.
When it comes to protecting yourself and your family in the home, close all windows and doors without insect screens before dusk and dawn. Mozzies can also get through air vents and chimneys, so installing screens on these can help deter them.
What happens when you’re bitten?
Mosquito bites, while annoying, are generally harmless. When you’re bitten, the mozzie uses its sharp, tubular proboscis to pierce the skin and inject its saliva, which contains an anticoagulant. This thins the blood and makes it easier for the mozzie to siphon out. The saliva is an irritant and the body has an allergic reaction.
Interestingly, researchers in 2012 discovered that a mozzie’s proboscis is so fine that it’s capable of piercing individual blood cells and sucking them dry.
Tips to stop the itch
There are a number of home remedies for relieving mozzie bite itch. These include applying:
- crushed ice for short-term relief
- honey or aloe vera to reduce inflammation
- an oatmeal or baking soda paste (mixed with water)
- raw onion to reduce sting and irritation
- chamomile tea to speed up healing.
The way your body reacts to a bite depends on your immune system. Some people are more sensitive to mozzie bites and can have stronger allergic reactions. If the itch is too much to bear or the bite site swells, an antihistamine pill, cream or gel may be required. You can also take an antihistamine pill as soon as you’re bitten to deal with the inflammation.
If the bite becomes very swollen or infected, or you develop cold-like symptoms, you should see a doctor.
Have you been bitten but don’t know by what? This government-supported symptom checker can help you identify and treat bites and stings.
What are your tips for avoiding mozzie bites and stopping the itch?