Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
""The area I?m visiting has a lot of mosquitoes, how can I protect myself?""
I really don?t want to spend my vacation fighting off mosquitoes and scratching. What can I do?
Mosquitoes are not only annoying, they spread disease. In the developing world, and even the United States and Europe, Mosquitoes carry a wide variety of serious diseases, so it is important for your health to try and avoid mosquito bites. The best way to avoid mosquito bites is to avoid mosquitoes. If possible, try to avoid moist areas with pools of stagnant water, as well as avoiding the outdoors between dusk and dawn. Avoiding mosquitoes is often impossible, so here are some other strategies to reduce the frequency of mosquito bites. Try to wear wear clothes that minimize the amount of exposed skin, since it is much less likely to get bitten through clothing. Some insect repellents work well, others do not. For travelers to the developing world, where mosquitoes frequently carry serious illnesses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends insect repellents containing either DEET or picaridin. Of the two, DEET is much more common and is used in the majority of non-holistic commercial products in the United States. Products containing between 30 and 50 percent DEET work well, are generally effective for about four hours, and, when used appropriately, are safe for adults, infants and children over the age of two months. One of the hardest times to prevent mosquito bites is during non-waking hours. It is recommended all travelers choose accommodations with air conditioned and well-screened in sleeping quarters. If these are not available where you are traveling, bed netting will reduce or, if used properly, potentially eliminate mosquito bites while sleeping. If you are traveling to the developing world, bed netting is necessary to prevent the transmission of malaria and other serious diseases, and it is important to always check netting for holes every night before going to bed. After you return from a trip to an area with lots of mosquitoes, it is always necessary to visit your primary care physician for a quick check up. Only a complete history and examination by a physician can determine whether you may have contracted a mosquito-borne illness (which can even happen within the US), so it is recommended that you schedule an appointment with a physician as soon as possible upon your return home.
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