Summer survival series: Avoiding mosquitoes


As the last few weeks of summer wind down before the start of school, we want to share a few tips to keep you and your family safe and healthy.  Stay outside just a little bit longer with this quick guide to mosquitoes:


Where you find them:

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, which, unfortunately, means that all of our recent rainy weather has created a breeding haven for the little pests.


Why you don’t want them around:

In rare cases, mosquitoes can transmit disease and viruses. They can pick up a disease from an animal or a human and transfer it to another human or animal. Some people may also experience allergic reactions to the bites. In our region, mostly they are just pests – their buzzing can be heard in quiet settings and their bites create itchy bumps.

While the Zika virus has not reached the Tri-State via mosquito, it is still good to be aware of the latest news and warnings surrounding the disease’s spread.


How to prevent bites:

Stay away from puddles, ditches, swampy areas, ponds and any floodwater as best you can. Apply insect repellent to any exposed skin (products with DEET are OK), but, Dr. Holly Gunn, a dermatologist with St. Elizabeth Physicians warns, to be careful to “avoid the eyes, mouth or any cuts.”

Be sure to follow instructions carefully for any products you apply. If it’s not too hot, wear long sleeves, pants, and socks and shoes. Avoid applying any scented perfumes or lotions before heading outside.

“Permethrin sprays on your clothing can even prevent bugs from walking on your clothing,” said Gunn.

When it comes to protecting larger spaces such as your backyard, you can use short-term candles and foggers, but repellants applied directly to your skin will always be more effective. If you have a serious problem with the pests, long-term insecticides may be an option. They are more effective, but also come with more consequences, including eradicating other beneficial bugs that pollinate flowers.


How to treat bites when they do happen:

You can apply a cold compress to the site if there is any swelling. Applying a topical antihistamine or other anti-itching compound like Sarna Sensitive lotion (pramoxine) can help relieve the itchiness and prevent scratching.

Any symptoms that seem unusual for a typical mosquito bite (severe itching or swelling, bruising or headaches) warrant a call to your doctor.