I’m very well loved… By mosquitos, the little bastards. So whilst living in Greece, my attention swiftly focused on what to do about mosquitos bites.
Both my sister Nicola and I unwittingly provided a bountiful feast to the local mozzie population, much to our dismay.
When Nicola got chomped on first and her bites started going bright red, ballooning and spreading, I sat there for a while saying, “Nope, definitely nothing on me.” I felt immensely surprised and not a little bit smug…
That of course, did not last long.
The bumps and sanity-reducing itchiness that followed, came from the anticoagulant the mosquito injects to prevent your blood from clotting, which then triggers a supposedly mild allergic reaction. Looking at the pair of us however, it ain’t that mild darlin’ – I’m likening my legs to a Twister mat at the moment.
Why are we being bitten when some people are left alone?
It’s basically because we smell. Haha! Mosquitos are attracted to CO2, Lactic acid, Uric acid and Cholesterol wafting out of our pores and gobs and can detect us up to 50m away. Gawd. We must be especially potent.
Helpful (but not effective) advice received for treating mosquito bites
Concerned friends and family, horrified at the blotchy, trotter leg and arm photo’s being shared online, offered various ye olde remedies to help alleviate the itching, including:
- peeing on the bites (I didn’t try this for fear of the amount of flies it would attract)
- sticking a fingernail in and making a cross mark on the bite (relief lasts but a moment and it did not enhance my attractiveness any)
- slapping your bites (Nicola famously did this last year with a fly swat – amusing for everyone else but her)
- covering with toothpaste overnight (this did provide slight itch relief for about half an hour then I found it very irritating and it increased my discomfort)
- eating garlic (believe me we LOVE garlic and have it daily and this has made diddly squat difference)
Home remedies for bites we’ve still to try out
- using lavender essential oil
- applying lemon or apple cider vinegar
- dabbing with a used cooled tea bag
What’s worked so far
- good old anti-histamine tablets to deal with any existing mosquito bites
Medication still to try
- Hydrocortisone cream – I’ve got some but don’t want to use it unless absolutely necessary
Of course, if we could repel the mighty blood thirsty midgets in the first place, that would be a gazillion times better than having to treat symptoms. So I got down to doing some research, ‘cos that’s what I love to do, and these are the things I discovered.
How to prevent being bitten in the first place – disguise yourself!
- Apply local olive oil sparingly to every bit of bare skin after showering – cheap, organic and the most effective treatment I’ve tried! Moisturised my skin a treat too.
- Insect repellant containing DEET – despite various Governments assuring us it is not a toxic hazard, I personally have my own doubts about sticking pesticide on me. Basically if there’s the slightest doubt of it’s safety, should I really be applying it to my skin? No, I don’t think so. Also it smells disgusting.
- Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus has been proven to be more effective than DEET in a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as mentioned in this article on NaturalNews. There are a variety of products using Citriodiol® that contain this oil of Lemon Eucalyptus – read more about it on Mosi-Guard.com. You will also find other natural products being sold containing oil of Lemon Eucalyptus – I recommend doing some research yourself locally.
- Taking Vitamin B1 / Thiamine supplements apparently makes you fugly to mosquitos, as suggested in a study done in the 1960s showing that thiamine (B1) produces a skin odor female mosquitoes don’t like. (Mind you, I can’t find a link to it at all – so this may be an urban myth). Online, there’s conflicting beliefs about the effectiveness of B1 of course but enough anecdotal evidence of effectiveness to make me think it’s worth giving it a go – plus my daughter swore eating Marmite every day while she was in Thailand reduced the number of bites she would normally get. Another good indicator that there’s something to this B1 stuff, is that there are now companies producing B1 patches that you can stick to your skin – check out Don’t Bite Me and Kite® Products. Alternatively eat more foods high in B1, such as sunflower seeds, or take a Brewers Yeast supplement.
The last option is to repel the critters from getting near enough to bite you in the first place
- Permethrin can be sprayed on clothes and netting and tents and kills bugs on contact. Don’t spray this on your body! Spray clothes outside and leave to dry for a couple of hours or as directed. I believe you can even buy clothes already treated with the stuff. Do a search online, loads of info comes up.
- Picaridin this synthetic product developed in the 1980’s can be sprayed on clothes and also used directly skin. You can read more about it on the National Pesticide Information Center
- Metofluthrin is used in a variety of products such as strips that you can hang or plug in to emanate around you, for indoor and outdoor use. It should not be applied to the skin.
- Good old citronella candles. They have the added benefit of casting a soft glow to disguise all the red lumps and make you look slightly more alluring
- Plants and Chickens. Yes, apparently there are some plants that mozzies don’t like the smell of, and of course chickens and other creatures will eat the little buggers given half the chance. There’s an interesting article on HubPages that goes into this in more detail – How To Repel Mosquitoes Naturally – check it out!
So I know what I’m going to do now. No Nicola, we’re not having chickens. I’m going to buy a lovely bottle of Kalamata olive oil, some stuff containing Lemon Eucalyptus oil and start supplementing with B1 and stock up on some more anti-histamine to cope with the existing itchy bastard lumps.
And please do let me know if you’ve got any top tips on dealing with mosquito bites by leaving a comment.
In the meantime, I shall get ready to go down to the beach. Yes, it’s late October and the weather is still good enough in Stoupa to feel the golden sand between my toes and swim in the shimmering sea. Fuck the mozzies, this whole experience is worth it!
PS. Please excuse the manky little toe on my left foot – caused by stubbing my toe whilst wearing flip flops. This video posted on Facebook shows the moment after it happened, captured fresh for your viewing pleasure. Aren’t you lucky 😉