Travel Tips For Avoiding Mosquitoes

27th Sep 2016

Travel Tips For Avoiding Mosquitoes

No mosquitoes on vacation please

The growth and spread of mosquito-borne diseases throughout the world has meant areas that were once considered relatively safe destinations are now under threat from virus infections not previously seen before.

Florida, with well over 80 million visitors each year, is the top travel destination in the world. However, the number of people preparing to visit the sunshine state this fall and winter has dropped by almost 15 percent following media coverage of the Zika outbreak and the CDC’s travel warning issued in August.

When it comes to mosquitoes, some deadly, some just annoying, there are a few simple steps you should take to protect yourself.

1. Clothing

The clothes you travel in should not only keep you warm and dry; they should also prevent mosquito attacks. Stay away from dark colors, especially black, which mosquitoes are attracted to. And cover up as much skin as possible; wear long sleeves and pants, shoes and socks instead of sandals, and a hat to keep mosquito bites off the warm, top part of your head.

For added protection, spray your clothing with Permethrin. This EPA approved pesticide kills black flies, ticks, and mosquitoes on contact but has no harmful side effects on humans (if used as directed). It is available in liquid form and spray and can be applied to just about anything including shoes, hats, bags and tents. It won't harm fabric, has no smell once dried and lasts from 4-6 washing's.

2. Personal Insect Repellents

The CDC currently recommends the use of products containing active ingredients which have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use as repellents. Those containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide), Picaridin, IR3535, and some Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) and Para-Menthane-Diol (PMD) products were shown to provide the longest lasting protection. However, when you're buying repellents it's not about the brand, it's about the 'active ingredient' used. i.e. Sawyer's make repellents that contain either Deet or Picaridin - it's your choice.

Repellents containing DEET are recommended for areas where travelers may encounter potentially life-threatening mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria and yellow fever. And for the doubters, the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Bug Repellent Report found that DEET may actually be the safest choice.

Amongst their findings and recommendations was that products containing lower concentrations of DEET were just as effective as those with higher concentrations, but for shorter periods of time. According to the EWG's Senior Scientist, Dave Andrews, the key is repeated use of a product that contains a low percentage of the active ingredient. “The percentage doesn't affect the efficacy, but it does affect how long the product lasts. Generally, you’re better off with a lower percentage: No higher than 30% and lower for children, to be on the safe side.”

How Long Does That Repellent Last?

Concentration Effective For
Sawyer Jungle Juice 98% Deet 10.0 hours
Sawyer Premium 20% Picaridin 8.0 hours
Nopikex Soap 22% Deet 8.0 hours
Repel® Sportsmen 30% Deet 6.5 hours
Repel 30% OLE 6.0 hours
incognito® Anti Mosquito 100% 5.0 hours
Sawyer Controlled Release 20% Deet 4.0 hours
OFF!® Skintastic 6.65% Deet 2.0 hours
Repel® OLE 2.0 hours
OFF!® Botanicals 10% PMD 2.0 hours
OFF® Skintastic for Kids 4.75 Deet 1.5 hours
Avon Skin So Soft 7.5% IR3535 23 min

Products containing lower concentrations of DEET are just as effective as those with higher concentrations but for shorter periods of time.

3. Bite Relief

If you do get bitten, whatever you do, don’t scratch the bite - no matter how good it feels. Scratching it will just break the skin which could lead to infection. Wash with soap, and run cool water over the bite to provide temporary relief.

  • OTC medications such as calamine lotion and cortisone creams work well. Homemade remedies include dabbing vinegar or a paste made from baking soda and water to the bite.
  • If you are one of the unlucky few who experience allergic reactions to mosquito bites, anti-inflammatory medications like Motrin or Advil that contain ibuprofen can help to reduce redness, pain, itching, swelling and fever.
  • If you become unwell with a fever, headache, or flu-like illness while travelling, and up to one year after returning home, seek medical attention promptly. And don't forget to mention to your GP if you have been travelling in any dengue, Zika or malaria-risk areas.

Mosquitoes thrive on every continent except Antarctica so no matter where you intend to travel, getting bitten seems almost inevitable. Whether you’re holidaying at home or abroad DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT a bottle of insect repellent in your travel tote!