Mosquito Bites 101: Avoiding and Treating Them
Warm weather and spring time bring many happy things. Flowers, sunshine, and riding in your car with the windows down are just a few of the joyous things to come. But with the good, sadly comes the bad. Bugs. The winter hiatus away was not enough to keep them at bay forever. And while all flying pests are annoying, there is none worse than the dreaded mosquito.
Almost the entire world is territory for these tiny beasts, and for some it seems like there’s no escaping. Whether it’s in the Catskills of New York, or the rice paddies of Northern Laos, you’re bound to feel that unbearable itching around your ankles after venturing outdoors.
In some places though, a bite can mean much more. Mosquitoes can carry and spread dangerous diseases like West Nile Virus, Malaria, and Dengue Fever. So if itching wasn’t bad enough! Some people are incredibly lucky, and it seems like these blood sucks have no interest in them. Others, aren’t so lucky, and no matter how careful they are still feel their wrath. Whichever camp you fall into, there are some ways to avoid being bitten, and some remedies to help soothe your skin if they don’t work out.
Stay away from me!
There have been a lot of studies done to see what attracts mosquitoes, and what they do and don’t like. For example, if you’re Type O blood type, you’re out of luck: these little buggers love you the most. But there are things you can change to keep the annoyance at a minimum. If you know you’re going to be in a mozzie heavy area, keep these tips in mind.
They’re attracted to dark clothing. They cause you to stand out a lot more than lighter colors. Black and red are shown to be the worst for bites. So skip the jeans and go for the khakis instead.
Mosquitos love a good stink. Whether it’s been a long day of hiking, you’ve gone for a quick jog, or it’s just plain hot out, there’s no denying sweat causes us to smell. Mosquitos hone in on that stench and will head straight for you. They are especially enamoured by stinky feet. So do us all a favor and hop in the shower before heading back outside.
Watch what you eat. While your mom was right, and a healthy diet is important every day, it also affects how your body smells at the microscopic level. Even though we can’t smell it, it comes through our pores, and you can sure bet the mosquitoes know what you ate for lunch! One of their favorite snacks are people who love potassium. So if you just had a spinach salad with avocados and salmon, with a banana shake for good measure, you can be sure you’re on the menu tonight. Don’t think you can get away with staying away from healthy foods though! Mozzies love a salty snack as much as you do. Stick to foods that are spicy or sour, like the Chinese favorite, Hot and Sour soup, and while your food is great, you’ll taste terrible to bugs.
Two backpackers walk into a bar… Mosquitoes clearly want to join in on the party, because just one beer or cocktail will send them flying in your direction. This is mostly because booze boost your body’s temperature, and mosquitoes prefer warm blood. Bet you that a jack-less Coke is sounding much better than a Bud right now!
Sweet, Sweet Relief
You can spray on the DEET, you can avoid guacamole like the plague, and you might still get a bite! Mosquito saliva actually is an anticoagulant, and that’s what causes the terrible itching feeling. The best remedy to making it feel better is truly to simply ignore it: it actually makes it worse by causing inflammation, and could turn the small bumps into cuts, and potentially infections. It’s hard to give into the temptation though, knowing there’s a momentary sense of relief. Before you resort to scratching all of your skin off, give some new methods a try.
The Hot Spoon
Run hot water from the tap over a metal spoon. When it’s nice and hot, press it up against your bite for a few minutes. Voila! The itch is no more. The heat from the spoon is essentially breaking down the bug’s saliva protein, and just leaves behind the bump.
Minty Fresh Toothpaste
Though it might seem strange to put this anywhere other than your toothbrush, you won’t regret trying this out. Make sure you’re not using the gel kind, it won’t do you any good. A tiny dab on each bite not only effectively dries out the bite (if you’re using the baking soda variety) and also have anti-inflammatory ingredients in it. Combine that with peppermint’s cooling sensation, and you’ve got a winner. Your legs will look funny, but you’ll hardly notice when you feel so much better.
While it’s usually used to soothe aching muscles, it’s also pretty effective on bites. Similar to if you used ice, the cold it creates numbs the nerves down so you don’t feel the pain or itching. The smell also helps keep mosquitos away, so dab some around your ankles, elbows, or anywhere else you get a lot of bites before you leave home for the day.