health – Insect Bites


  • Where possible avoid going out of doors between dusk and dawn.
  • Wear long sleeves to cover your arms and long trousers to cover your ankles.
  • Avoid dark coloured clothing – it retains heat and attracts mosquitoes.
  • If possible choose an air-conditioned room.
  • Keep doors and windows closed.
  • Avoid using perfumes and aftershaves – the smells attract mosquitoes.
  • Choose a room above the third floor. Insects don’t tend to fly to this height. But of course they do get carried.
  • If living in the area ensure there are no open water containers. Still water is often the preferred breading ground of numerous insects.

Insect Repellents

  • When choosing a repellent remember that products with between 30 to 50% Deet (diethyltolumide) are the most effective. Higher dosages of Deet are available. If preferred and non-Deet products can be used to protect children.
  • Wash excess repellent of your skin before going to bed.
  • Use a Mosquito net if sleeping outdoors or in a room without proper fly screening. Ensure that it is correctly fitted.
  • Use Mosquito nets impregnated with permethrin to discourage insects from landing on the net and possibly biting its slumbering occupant through the holes.
  • Use sprays around dawn and dusk (mosquito’s most active time of day).
  • Mosquito coils and plug-in repellents are very effective, and should be used if available.
  • High pitched buzzers are not effective.

Reactions and Allergies

  • Creams which contain steroids or antibiotics are most effective against itching bites.
  • Carry some anti histamine tablets. Remember these react with alcohol so reduce your intact or abstain.
  • If your allergy is very severe you may need to take anti histamine throughout your time abroad. In this case start the day before you arrive and for a day after you return. More modern anti histamines are now non-sedative.
  • If you are prone to collapse or anaphylactic shock when bitten or stung make certain your wear a medi-alert bracelet all the time. Also inform your courier and ensure other members of your party are aware of your condition. In some cases you may consider carrying an epi-pen. This contains a single dose of adrenaline for instances of anaphylactic shock.

Easing and Soothing

  • Try to avoid scratching bites as this is how they become infected. Rubbing gently will have the same soothing effect and lead to less trouble.
  • Try a lukewarm bath or shower to ease the itching.
  • If irritation is severe try sleeping tablets at night.

Getting Advice

  • Seek medical advise before you travel especially if you are prone to reactions.
  • If you have been badly bitten attend a doctor on your return.