I have some delicious blood! I just came back from my trip overseas & brought back a total of 15 mosquito bites. My right leg got hit the hardest, followed by my left leg, my foot, my arm, my back & even my hand. Fortunately my upper body & face was left untouched. Of course, being bitten sucks but it’s certainly not my first time being attacked by mosquitoes. For some reason whenever I travel I tend to come back home with a few “souvenirs” so I’m quite used to the bites, but I still wish it didn’t happen to me so much.
This got me to wondering, why do I tend to attract so many mosquitoes when other people don’t? Well, I did a little digging on what attracts mosquitoes, how to prevent them from biting and finally what to do when you get bitten. Here’s what I found out –
WHY’D THEY BITE ME
Most mosquitoes seek out certain blood types and certain characteristics when choosing their prey. On average 1 in 10 people are considered extremely attractive to these insects. It’s also been noted that genetics account for 85% of our susceptibility to mosquito bites. And since it’s the female mosquito that does all the biting, they seek out human blood because it enables their eggs to become fertile. Here’s who at higher risk:
1. You wore too much perfume or cologne. If you must wear any at all then bathe yourself in the strongest perfume possible. But beware, floral scents are especially attractive to mosquitoes.
2. Watch what you wear – Darker colors make you stand out to mosquitoes
3. You’re sweating too much -Mosquitoes are very attracted to a person’s sweat. This is due to the combination of lactic acid and emitting more carbon dioxide.
4. All that carbon dioxide – Try not to breathe so much! Mosquitoes are drawn to carbon dioxide, so the more you emit the more likely you’ll be bitten. Adults emit more carbon dioxide than children so in general, adults are more likely to be bit than children.
5. Higher body temperature -Some people naturally have higher body temperatures than other people and mosquitoes are drawn to warmer blood.
6. Drink liquor outdoors – Drinking alcohol can drastically increase your chances of being bit. This is because drinking alcohol increases your body temperature.
7. Using alpha hydroxy products on your skin – Many skin care products contain lactic acid which might help boost your chemistry with these blood-seeking bugs. Look for lotions and creams labeled “alpha hydroxy,” which provide the most lactic acid & avoid them at all costs!
8. You have high cholesterol – If you know you have high cholesterol then you can be certain that your blood makes you automatically more attractive to mosquitoes. Having low cholesterol doesn’t just save your life, it can also save your skin!
9. Are you pregnant? – Expectant women naturally exhale more frequently, drawing more carbon dioxide. She also runs a higher body temperature and has more blood circulating through her body than someone who’s not expecting.
10. Don’t stand or sit still too much- Mosquitoes seek out people who they believe will provide them with the best opportunity to feed (after all it is hard to hit a moving target!). If you are standing around, taking a nap outside or just relaxing — you are more susceptible to getting bit by a mosquito.
11. Your blood type – If you have ‘Type O’ blood, you are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than any other blood type. Sorry O’s!!
12. Good ole genetics – Ah, something else to blame on your parents! Around 85% of your chances for being popular in the mosquito community is linked to your genetics.
YIKES! I’VE BEEN BITTEN, NOW WHAT?!
Try not to scratch the itch! Doing so will only aggravate the bite, making it itchier and more prone to infection. Here are some ways you can “soothe” that itch:
- Use your own saliva – I know it may sound gross but it will alleviate the itch & “wash” out any fluids left behind by the mosquito
- Use your fingernail to press an “X” into the bite. This disperses the protein and stops the itch for a while
- Hold a penny directly on top of the bites – Copper often makes the skin feel better after being “stung” (this may work for a bee sting as well)
- Nail polish (hopefully it’s clear polish)
- Calamine lotion or an hydrocortisone cream, like Cortizone
- Water may help alleviate the itch, whether it’s super hot or super cold
- Dab some deodorant over the bite area (a deodorant stick, not the gel)
- Rub a wet aspirin or a Tums over the affected are. Basically anything with a chalky-like substance
- Dab some toothpaste over the bite area (not the gel kind though)
- Dab some mouthwash over the bite area – It might sting a little but it’ll be better than the itching
- Mix baking soda & warm water – Apply the paste to your bite for a little soothing action
- Put a wet sponge in the freezer so that when you get itchy you can put the sponge on the bite. Just make sure that the sponge is clean
- Take a nice, relaxing hot bath – This is a good remedy for a lot of things, not just bug bites
- Lemon or lime juice (even if it’s artificial juice)
- Aloe Vera
- Apple cider vinegar
- Cooled tea (or a chilled teabag) – It can work wonders when applied to insect bites. Apply it like a cold compress
- Tee tree oil or lavender oil
- A raw potato
- Vapor rub – Good ole’ Vicks; it’s good for more than just colds!
Remember to apply any of the items mentioned above very gently apply to the affected area. Use your clean fingers or a cotton swab to apply. Leave on only for a few minutes then wash it off with warm water. And just like with any other physical ailment, go see a doctor if you develop an infection or think you have more than just a mosquito bite.
HOW TO PREVENT BITES
There are a few ways to keep the biting to a minimum. Let’s take a look at some of those ways:
- Burn a candle – Mosquitos don’t like flames or smoke so stay close to anything burning!
- Keep covered. Also, try to wear lighter colors because darker colors make you stand out to mosquitoes.
- Take your vitamins! – There is something about vitamin B that keeps the bugs away. It’s very safe & good to keep in your luggage
- Stay close to a fan – Supposedly, mosquitoes aren’t very good at flying
- Professional mosquito control – Go for the big guns! If prevention doesn’t produce adequate results, professional mosquito control companies provide barrier spray treatments.
- Eliminate standing water – The #1 thing you can do to reduce mosquitoes is to eliminate standing water. Mosquitoes go through four stages in their life cycle: egg, larvae, pupa and adult. All but the last stage occur in water. Without water, mosquitoes can’t reproduce.
- Remove yard debris – Be aware of areas where debris collects in the yard, such as grass clippings and piles of leaves
- Trim back vegetation – Mosquitoes feast on plant nectar when they aren’t prowling for blood, so they spend a lot of time in tall grasses or around shrubs and bushes. Mosquitoes like a place to hang out during the heat of the day so if you’ve got heavy vegetation around the house, it’s cooler and it’s damp and they’ll hang out on the leafy tissue on the bottom of those plants.
So which insect repellent should I use? The Center for Disease Control recommends a variety of safe and effective repellents for you and your family. Look for these key active ingredients:DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus. Pick your favorite insect repellent and use it whenever you go outside!
Do you have any tips on how to keep the mosquitoes away? If you’ve bitten like I have, what did you do to keep from scratching too much? Share in the comments below –