LivingTravelProtect yourself against mosquito bites

Protect yourself against mosquito bites

The perpetually humid and warm climate in Southeast Asia ensures that there is never a shortage of mosquitoes. From ankle-biting creatures to ridiculously suitable creatures for a horror movie, mosquitoes , as the fondly affectionate call them, are always looking for a free meal.

In addition to being a nuisance when traveling in Southeast Asia, mosquitoes pose two real threats: disease and infection. Scratching mosquito bites with dirty nails in a tropical environment can quickly turn a small problem into a fever-causing infection. Leg-oozing mosquito bites are a common backpacking site in Southeast Asia.

While mosquitoes are likely to be only a slight nuisance during your trip to Southeast Asia, the tiny insects are far more nefarious than snakes or any other creature found in the wild.

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 20,000 people die each year from snake bites, but malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes, kills more than fifty times that many people annually . Consider other mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue and the grim Zika virus, and suddenly humans seem to be losing the battle.

  • More Helpful Pre-Trip Tips Here: Preparing For Your Southeast Asia Trip
  • Keep your wits about you while traveling – stay safe in Southeast Asia
  • Mosquitoes aren’t the only pest in Southeast Asia – read about how to avoid bed bugs and prevent monkey bites.

Why do mosquitoes bite?

Despite their size, mosquitoes are actually the deadliest creatures on Earth; Numerous studies have been conducted to determine how to prevent mosquito bites. Both male and female mosquitoes prefer to feed on flower nectar; however, women switch to a protein blood diet when they are ready to reproduce. Interestingly, studies show that mosquitoes prefer to bite men than women ; Overweight people are at higher risk.

Mosquitoes can polish off carbon dioxide emitted by breath and skin from more than 75 feet away. While hiding or holding your breath is not practical, taking the right measures can lower the risk of bites.

Mosquitoes and dengue fever

While malaria receives most of the attention, the World Health Organization estimates that mosquitoes cause at least 50 million cases of dengue each year. Before 1970, only about nine countries had a risk of dengue fever. Dengue is now endemic in 100 countries; Southeast Asia is considered the region with the highest risk .

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or preventive for dengue fever other than avoiding being bitten in the first place.

The spotted mosquitoes that carry dengue fever generally bite during the day , while the species that carry malaria prefer to bite at night. The chances are high that you will survive an infection, but dengue will certainly ruin a fantastic trip!

Mosquitoes and Zika Virus

The same Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads yellow fever and dengue can also give unsuspecting visitors a dose of the Zika virus.

Southeast Asia is one of the main hotspots for the Zika virus, although it does not yet count as an ‘epidemic’: the worst affected country, Thailand, reported only seven cases between 2012 and 2014, with Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. only reported a single case of Zika virus each since 2010. (Source)

Some suspect that Zika cases go unreported in Southeast Asia, given its generally mild appearance and similarity in symptoms to other viral infections such as chikugunya and dengue. Some patients develop temporary paralysis after exposure, but the Zika virus reserves the worst for women who become infected during pregnancy; their babies are more likely to develop microcephaly.

For the latest Zika-related travel updates, read this highly relevant page from the CDC. If you are pregnant and traveling to a known Zika-affected country, read the CDC’s recommendations for pregnant travelers.

Ten tips to prevent mosquito bites

  1. You are at higher risk for mosquito bites, particularly on the islands, as the sun goes down; Be very careful at dusk.
  2. Pay attention under tables when eating in Southeast Asia. Mosquitoes would love to enjoy it as a meal while you eat yours.
  3. Wear earth tones, khaki, or neutral clothing while trekking. Studies show that mosquitoes are more attracted to bright clothing .
  4. If you are staying somewhere with a mosquito net, use it! Check for holes and apply DEET to any panties. Do the same for any broken windows around your housing.
  1. Mosquitoes are attracted to body odor and sweat; Stay clean to avoid attracting unnecessary mosquito attention and clean travel companions.
  2. Female mosquitoes normally feed on flower nectar when they are not trying to reproduce – avoid smelling like one! Sweet smelling fragrances in soap, shampoo, and lotion will attract more bitters.
  3. Unfortunately, DEET is still the most effective known way to prevent mosquito bites. Reapply smaller concentrations of DEET every three hours to exposed skin.
  4. Although hot weather generally dictates otherwise, the most natural way to prevent mosquito bites is to expose as little skin as possible .
  1. Gecko lizards, considered lucky in Southeast Asia, eat several mosquitoes per minute. If you are lucky enough to have one of these little friends in your room, let him stay!
  2. Get in the habit of closing the bathroom door after checking into your accommodation; Even small amounts of standing water give mosquitoes a better chance.

DEET – Safe or toxic?

Developed by the US military, DEET is the most popular way to control mosquitoes despite the harmful effects on skin and health. Concentrations of up to 100% DEET can be purchased in the US, however, Canada banned the sales of any repellants containing more than 30% DEET due to its high toxicity.

Contrary to folklore, higher concentrations of DEET are no more effective in preventing mosquito bites than lower concentrations . The difference is that higher concentrations of DEET are effective longer between applications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends reapplying a 30-50% DEET solution every three hours for maximum safety.

When used in conjunction with sunscreen, DEET should always be applied to the skin before sun protection . DEET decreases the effectiveness of sunscreen; Avoid products that combine both. Read more about how to avoid sunburn in Southeast Asia.

Do not apply DEET under your clothes or on your hands, you will inevitably forget it and end up rubbing your eyes or mouth.

  • Make sure your luggage contains only useful things – what to pack for your trip to Southeast Asia.

DEET Alternatives to Prevent Mosquito Bites

  • Icaridine – Also called picaridin, the World Health Organization promotes the use of icaridine as a DEET alternative. The repellent is odorless and causes less skin irritation than DEET. Even the Australian military has adopted its use in the field.
  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil – Lemon eucalyptus oil is considered a safe and natural alternative to DEET, although it is less effective and liberal doses should be used.
  • Skin-So-Soft: Avon Skin-So-Soft contains an agent known as IR3535 that is effective in repelling mosquitoes for short periods.

Mosquito repellants

A cheap and popular way to prevent mosquito bites in Southeast Asia is to burn mosquito coils under your table or while sitting outside. The coils are made from pyrethrum, a powder derived from chrysanthemum plants, and burn slowly to provide protection for hours; Never burn mosquito coils inside!

Mosquitoes and electric fans

Electric fans are a low-tech anti-mosquito solution, found practically everywhere. Fans disrupt mosquito attacks in two ways: first, weak-winged mosquitoes find it very difficult to navigate in the wake of a fan that operates even at low power; Second, the winds disperse the carbon dioxide trail that we emit that mosquitoes concentrate when looking for a meal.

So when you’re not on the road, find a resting place in the direct line of fire from a working electric fan. Feel free to sleep with an electric fan pointed directly at you (no matter what your Korean friends say; read more about the interesting Korean cultural myth of “fan deaths”).

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