How many mosquitoes have bitten you this year?  If you are like me, the answer is many.  What to do?  You can prevent the bite or deal with the bite later.

In many areas of the world, including Connecticut, a bite may mean exposure to a mosquito-borne disease.  For prevention, the practical choices are:

  • Avoid being outside
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Use a fan outside (mosquitoes don’t like the wind)

The second option is likely the most commonly chosen option since the first and last may be impractical.  Many of us turn to a mosquito repellant spray to keep the pests away.  But what’s in the spray?  The most commonly used ingredient is DEET, a pesticide designed to kill insects.  It also melts plastics and affects the functionality of the brain in rat studies.  Other skin care products, such as lotions, sunscreens and makeup, contain chemicals that combine with DEET, making it far more toxic than if it were used alone.  There are additional ingredients in repellant sprays that have been shown in studies to be toxic.  As we mention in the sunscreen article, the skin is semi-permeable and will pass certain substances into the body.  You don’t want to put toxic substances onto your skin and into your body.

There are many natural repellant sprays on the market that contain less harmful ingredients, including citronella, geranium oil, essential oils, and lemon eucalyptus.  Some of these products have been shown to be almost as effective as DEET.

What if you’ve already been bitten and the site itches?  There are many anti-itching remedies, toxic and nontoxic.  You can also find some things in the kitchen to help.  A friend of mine urged me to try her solution and I’ve found that it works.  After being bitten by a mosquito, scrub the spot with soap and a nail brush, hard.  Dry off the site and go on with your evening.  If the site itches again, scrub again – but harder this time.  I’ve found that the bite never itches again.  You can also apply a saturated compress to the bite with several kitchen ingredients including vinegar, baking soda, and Epsom salts.  And certainly, there are many anti-itch remedies, natural and chemically-based, on the market.

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