10 Ways to Prevent Mosquito Bites   

10 Ways to Prevent Mosquito Bites

Woman spraying bug spray on her arm while outside.
Clinical Contributors to this story:
Galen Centeno, M.D.

Mosquitoes are a pest that we all have to deal with, but there are ways to minimize your chances of getting bitten. Galen Centeno, M.D., internal medicine specialist at JFK University Medical Center, offers 10 easy tips to prevent mosquito bites and keep yourself comfortable outdoors this summer.

  1. Avoid being outdoors during mosquito “prime time.” Mosquitoes are most abundant and active during the times when they can find a food source to feed on—typically in the pre-dawn and post-dusk hours of the day. When possible, avoid being outdoors during these peak times for mosquito activity.
  2. Get rid of any standing water around your home. Mosquitos require stagnant water to lay their eggs in. So by eliminating sources of standing water, you can greatly reduce the mosquito population in your area. "Check your yard regularly for standing water, including pool covers, trash cans, rain barrels, flower pots, gutters and bird baths, for example," Dr. Centeno says.
  3. Apply mosquito repellent that contains DEET. DEET is one of the most effective active ingredients for repelling mosquitoes and other insects. "If you prefer to avoid DEET, look for a natural repellant, such as oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is derived from the leaves of the lemon eucalyptus tree," Dr. Centeno says. “Always refer to the EPA for a list of registered insect repellent and read the label.” 
  4. Take special care with young kids. Do not use oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane diol on children younger than 3 years old, or apply insect repellent to a child's hands, eyes, mouth, cuts or irritated skin. Adults should spray repellent onto their hands, then apply to a child's face. 
  5. Use screens on windows and doors. Installing screens on all windows and doors that are open for ventilation can prevent mosquitoes from entering your home. Make sure you repair any holes in screens to keep mosquitoes out. Ideally, keep windows closed and use an air-conditioner instead.
  6. Keep your grass low. Mosquitoes thrive in moist, shaded environments. Keep your grass at a low height to discourage mosquitoes from breeding in your yard and make it difficult for them to take refuge.
  7. Use an oscillating fan in your yard. "Mosquitoes are weaker fliers and have difficulty steering against the wind created by fans, making it harder for them to reach you," Dr. Centeno says. "Place fans near areas where you typically sit."
  8. Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs. If you reapply repellent, do not spray on skin under clothing.
  9. Use mosquito netting. If you have young children in strollers, use mosquito netting to protect them. If you are sleeping outdoors, sleep underneath a mosquito net.
  10. Consider using Permethrin to kill and repel mosquitos on clothing. The EPA recommends using 0.5% Permethrin to treat clothing, boots, socks, tents or buy pretreated clothes. 

What to Do for a Mosquito Bite

If you are bitten by a mosquito, take these four steps to relieve the bite:

  1. Wash the bite with soap and water.
  2. Apply a cold compress or ice pack to reduce swelling and itching.
  3. Apply an over-the-counter antihistamine or anti-itch cream containing hydrocortisone to the bite area to relieve itching.
  4. Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen if you need to reduce inflammation and discomfort. 
  5. Don't scratch the bite, since this can increase the risk of infection.

"In most cases, mosquito bites are just an annoyance associated with the summer months. They typically result in minor irritation and go away on their own in a few days," Dr. Centeno says. 

But if you've been bitten by a mosquito and have any of these symptoms, see your doctor:

  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Body aches
  • Spreading redness

Next Steps & Resources:

  • Meet our source: Galen Centeno, M.D.
  • To make an appointment with a primary care doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit ourwebsite.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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