(The feature image above comes from the CDC “Stop Mosquitoes” website: http://www.cdc.gov/features/stopmosquitoes/ where you can find even more info than what I have provided below)
I may have mentioned once or twice that I don’t like mosquitoes, but they really love me. It is a true love/hate relationship. In the picture on the right I had 11 mosquito bites on my face (with plenty more on my hands, arms and legs) – ouch! The biggest problem I have is that they not only love me, but I have been having allergic reactions to mosquito bites over the last few years. Some mosquito bites are certainly worse than others (for instance I reacted worse to bites I get in California than the ones I get at home probably due to the different types of mosquitoes). It is a tricky business for me and I do what I can to avoid being bitten. Another issue I have is that I am really sensitive to things that go on my skin (especially things with lots of fragrance) and I have to be careful because I have reactions to them as well and it has been challenging to find ways to keep from being eaten.
Recently IFLScience posted an article about why mosquitoes like some people more than others. If you have interest, you can read about it here!
So, without further ado, this is how I attempt to combat the “bitey-bugs” and if they get me what I do.
Insect Repellent Clothing
I don’t like using spray repellents unless I have to. I found a product that I have just started using just this year – Exoffico’s BugsAway Clothing which uses a special fabric they have developed that has inspect repellent woven into garments. I bought a long sleeved shirt around Christmas that I took with me to the Philippines. I had it on one day after getting a few bites the previous days. Nothing nibbled on me the day I wore it but my sister came away with bites. Since I had some success I decided to buy 2 more pieces which have just arrived today – a hoody and a pair of pants. These will be great this summer when I am out on a boat trip in Canada or camping around Oregon.
The Exoffico website describes the special fabric this way, “BugsAway® apparel is treated with Insect Shield®, giving you invisible, odorless protection just by putting on your clothes. The treatment is bound to fabric fibers, so it stays in your clothes—not on your skin—and lasts through 70 washes. Ants, flies, chiggers and midges can’t stand it, and neither can ticks and mosquitoes, those pesky carriers of many insect-borne diseases.” With Zika on the rise in the US and worldwide I have a feeling this fabric is going to be very popular and I am looking forward to it’s protection! The clothing is really cute and perfect for traveling anywhere. The hoody is super light-weight and perfect for warm days too.
Propane Powered Repellents
I once mentioned my ThermaCell propane powered Mosquito Repellers in a post on my favorite things, but I love them so much that I thought it was worth mentioning again. We use them when we are camping and we also have lanterns for use at home. The photo on the left is from ThermaCell’s website and shows one of the personal portable Repellers they have on offer. The black base comes off the device and this is where you change out your little butane cartridge that powers the device A grill is heated that the blue pad at the top sits on to release the repellent (called allethrin) off the replaceable pad into the air. This repellent is a copy of the naturally occurring repellent from chrysanthemum flowers. This device will cover a 15’x15′ area and the pads and cartridges last for hours. This is so easy to use and I find works very well!
Wearable Insect Repellents
My husband is always on the search for things that can help me. He is really sweet that way. He picked up these little bracelets, and I am not sure they work that well. We keep forgetting to use them, but it might be a good option for kids. My son has worn them and found he wasn’t bitten however ratings on Amazon give these 3 of 5 stars and Consumer Reports have said they don’t work at all. They use essential oils to “mask you”. You can read more about them at the link above. These are a one size fits all and come in lots of different colors. I would say proceed at your own risk though!
I try using the more natural variations first and go for the heavy hitters later. I look for sprays with citronella in it that can mask me a bit. Since I am sensitive to the fragrance, I usually spray my clothes rather than directly on my skin and I cover up.
I really don’t like using mosquito repellent like DEET, but will use it if necessary and carry it with me in the trailer. Consumer Reports has done a study on different mosquito repellent sprays and find that the natural versions are not as effective unfortunately. Deep Woods OFF! has been a go to for me if things are really bad. Again with these, I do not spray it directly on my skin and just spray my clothes. It is really nasty stuff and I don’t like having it on me if I can help it – especially if I don’t have the luxury of showers or swimming. Spraying it on my clothes seems to help with keeping things away and I feel a little better about using them.
I also have some Bug Repellent wipes containing DEET I keep in the trailer too. I haven’t used them yet, but throw them in my pack for hikes in case I need them. Desperate times call for desperate measures!
Combating the Bites!
I always try to avoid being bitten, but when I do get bites there are a few things I carry to help. First of all we have some little individual “Sting Ease” applicators we keep in our first aid kit (you can see them in the picture here, on the left hand side and they are bright green). This takes some of the itch away and makes my life a little more pleasant. When I start to swell up in the area of the bite I take some Benedryl. This is something I always carry with me when I travel, but try really hard not to use. I don’t like that it makes me sleepy and it seems new studies are saying it is causing other health problems. If I am having a bad reaction and it isn’t getting better, it helps and it is worth taking it. I also use ice if I have some available. It does an amazing job taking the itch away and reducing my swelling too. I also carry calamine lotion and some times that can help with pulling the itch out as well.
Now your turn! What do you to keep from being bitten and when you are, how do you treat the bite? I am always looking for suggestions!