World Mosquito Day: 9 Simple Tricks To Stay Mosquito-Free
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Dengue epidemic or not, mosquitoes have never been good news.
Not only are mosquito bites bloody annoying (pun very much intended), they can be highly dangerous as well. Malaria, dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and now Zika, amongst others. Nowhere is the adage, ‘prevention is better than cure’, more applicable. Here are a few ways you can keep yourself mosquito-free:
1. Mosquito repellent – One of the simplest and most obvious things to do to prevent bites, yet most people either forget, or seem to want to avoid it. Always keep a tube or bottle in your bag, and make sure it has adequate DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) content, about 30-50 per cent. DEET works by blocking the CO2 receptors of mosquitoes. Since mosquitoes are attracted to CO2, they will land on you, but won’t bite if you’ve applied an even coating of a product containing DEET. DO NOT use this for babies under 2 months.
2. Cover yourself well – No, I’m not going all puritanical on you. The more skin that is exposed, the more chances of you being bitten. Wear long-sleeved and full-length clothes, and try and choose clothing that is of a tight weave, so mosquitoes can’t get through it.
3. Mosquito net – This is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself at night, especially in warm and wet climates. This also works well for babies, as their crib/bassinet/stroller can be covered well with the net.
4. Light-coloured clothes – Mosquitoes usually swarm around the lower halves of your bodies, and use differentiation in colour to distinguish humans, or their food, from their surroundings, during the day. Hence, wearing light-coloured clothes will protect you from bites.
5. Keep the fan on – You must have noticed that if a fan is on, or if it’s windy, you’re bitten less. The reason is that even if there is a slight breeze, mosquitoes find it difficult to fly.
6. Keep the CO2 away – Since mosquitoes are attracted to CO2, it makes sense to limit activities that create more of it in the body. These include drinking alcohol, eating spicy foods, and exercising too much.
7. Stay cool – It is believed that mosquitoes are attracted to warm bodies, and ‘old’ sweat. Have regular baths, keep your clothes clean, and wear comfortable clothing, especially if you are in a warm or humid climate. Dark-coloured clothes also attract heat, making you more susceptible to bites. Another reason to love pastels!
8. The natural way – Some plants and their oils are understood to keep the bites away. These include citronella, tea tree oil, lavender, basil, lemon eucalyptus, neem (Indian lilac) catnip, and peppermint. Some studies also say that increasing your intake of vitamin B1, or thiamine, will make you unattractive to mosquitoes. There is no strong evidence for this, but since high doses do not affect humans in any way, there is no harm trying this out.
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9. Keep the perfume away – Perfumes tend to attract more mosquitoes, especially floral smells.
Pregnant women and overweight people are more likely to attract mosquitoes, as they have higher CO2 levels, so they need to take extra care.
Mosquitoes breed in still water, so keeping your surroundings clean is as important as any of the above points, or even more. If you use a water cooler, clean it every couple of weeks, and change the water. Kiddie pools, hot water tubs etc. also need to be kept clean. If you do get bitten, don’t scratch yourself silly. Instead, rub an ice cube or a little hand sanitiser to minimise the sting.