Whether you’re planning summer activities at home or abroad, it’s important to think about ways to avoid seasonal mosquitoes if you want to ensure that your recreational activities remain enjoyable. Besides the irritating and painful bites that mosquitoes leave behind, they can carry diseases that are easily transmitted to humans.
Although bites and the infections they spread can often be treated, the best thing you can do is prevent bites altogether. If you have control of the environment and can anticipate, there are several ways to avoid pests.
A good place to start is to make sure you have screens to keep mosquitoes out and to be sure to remove standing water, where they can lay eggs. When assessing standing water, remember to check flower pots, gutters, plastic furniture covers and toys.
If you’re on the go, wearing long pants and long sleeves can help cover bare skin, giving mosquitoes easy access. In areas with high mosquito concentrations, treating clothing with permethrin, an antiparasitic cream, adds extra protection. Although there are a number of different topical products on the market that claim to repel mosquitoes, the validity of these claims is not always the same from brand to brand. When looking for safe and effective ways to prevent mosquito bites, there are products that demonstrate both safety and effectiveness.
DEET is most highly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some recommended alternatives to DEET are Picaridin and IR3535. Although there are many natural mosquito repellent products available, unfortunately most have not been proven to be effective. The exception to this is lemon eucalyptus oil, which has comparable effectiveness to DEET.
To be sure the product you want to use is appropriate, the EPA has a free search tool that lets you find specific products that will repel mosquitoes, ticks, or both. When evaluating products, be careful with treated bracelets. Although they may contain mosquito repellents, they do not provide a large enough area of protection to adequately cover the whole body.
And if your plans include international travel, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss ways to avoid mosquitoes, as well as to obtain preventative medications for mosquito-borne illnesses. While mosquitoes are certainly an unpleasant addition to outdoor plans, taking steps to avoid them helps ensure a healthy and safe summer.
Jessica Mayer, DO
Suburban Family Medicine Residency Program Director
Vice-Chair Department of Family Medicine
Suburban Family Medicine in Norristown
2705 DeKalb Street, Suite 202
Norristown, Pennsylvania 19401
Dr. Mayer sees patients of all ages and is dedicated to providing compassionate care for the whole person. She is Board Certified in Family Medicine and Director of the Suburban Family Medicine Residency Program and Vice Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Suburban Community Hospital.
Dr. Mayer completed her medical training at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (Pennsylvania) in 2008, her internship at Crozer-Chester Medical Center (Pennsylvania) in 2009, and her residency at Mercy Suburban Hospital in 2011.