Health Advice

Insect Bites

Tourists are reasonably clued up about the risks of insect bites, particularly mosquitoes, and the risk of contracting diseases such as Malaria.

However, mosquitoes aren’t only responsible for Malaria, they can also cause Dengue Fever, West Nile Fever and Yellow Fever.

The best way of protecting yourself is through thorough prevention of bites, so follow these simple steps to shield yourself as best as possible from the infectious bites of the mosquito.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

It's worth remembering that mosquitoes feed between dusk and dawn and are most active in low light hours after dusk, and in the hours prior to dawn. It is therefore important that repellents are used after evening time to prevent being bitten.

Where possible, use a repellent that contains a natural-based repellent such as lemon or eucalyptus, or those that have DEET. Apply liberally to the entire body, even areas that you would normally have covered, as a precaution. Make sure to keep reapplying your chosen repellent, as they normally have a life span of just four hours. After this time, you are not protected.

While clothing alone will not protect you against mosquito bites, it can help in prevention. Clothing that covers a large proportion of the body, such as long sleeve shirts, full length trousers, and socks, are helpful in preventing you from being bitten. Although mosquitoes can bite through different materials to penetrate the skin, wearing these types of clothing will substantially lower the risk. It’s worth remembering denim jeans and canvas boots will make it more difficult for mosquitoes to penetrate the material, although in hot climates this may be not be ideal for all travellers.

Permethrin is a repellent that can be used on your clothing to help prevent mosquitoes further. If impregnating your day to day clothing is not something you would be happy with, there are permethrin impregnated wrist and ankle bands that can also help. It is important that fellow travellers are protected in a similar way, as repelled mosquitoes will go to another person who is not protected!

Research has shown mosquitoes are attracted to sweat, which may explain why they are more common in hotter climates. Because of this, you should keep your clothes as clean as possible, particularly socks and shirts, and keep yourself fresh and clean with regular showers and by wearing a strong anti-perspirant. It has also been suggested that mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours of clothing, so it may be best to switch from black, grey and blue to beige, white and even yellow instead.

Although air conditioning does help to keep mosquitoes at bay due to the low temperature, it is important that it is left on throughout the day to keep the room at a consistent coolness. It is also highly recommended the windows are not left open at night and the mosquitoes will fly into the room and will be hard to then remove. Sleeping with a mosquito net is always a good idea, as there may be a couple of pesky mosquitoes in your room that you aren’t even aware of. These are widely available and help to keep mosquitoes at bay. To increase your protection, you could always have your net impregnated with permethrin as an extra deterrent.