Whether you’re planning summer activities at home or abroad, avoiding mosquitos is a key part of enjoyable recreation. Besides the itchy and painful bites they leave behind, mosquitos carry diseases that are transmitted to humans. While the bites and the infections they spread can be often be treated, the best course of action is to prevent the bites all together. If you have control of the environment, using screens to block mosquitos from coming indoors and eliminating standing water to avoid them laying eggs are good places to start. When evaluating for standing water, don’t forget to check flower pots, rain gutters, plastic covers and toys. When feasible, wearing long pants and sleeves can help prevent mosquitos from getting access to your skin. In areas of high mosquito concentrations, treating clothes with permethrin adds additional protection. There are numerous skin products on the market that claim to repel mosquitos, but the validity of these claims is not equal amongst all options. When looking for safe and effective ways to prevent mosquito bites, the components listed below have strong evidence showing both their safety and effectiveness.
DEET is most strongly recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some recommended alternatives to DEET are Picaridin and IR3535. While there are a lot of mosquito repelling products that are natural, unfortunately most have not been show to be effective. The exception to this is oil of lemon eucalyptus which has similar effectiveness to DEET. To be sure the product you would like to use is appropriate, the EPA has a free search tool that allows you to find specific products that will repel mosquitos, tics or both. When evaluating products, use caution with treated wristbands, even those these may contain mosquito repelling agents, they don’t provide a wide enough protection zone to cover the whole body. If your plans include international travel, scheduling an appointment with your physician is important to discuss ways to avoid mosquitos as well as preventative medications for mosquito borne illness. While mosquitos are certainly an unpleasant addition to outdoor plans, taking steps to avoid them contributes to having a safe and healthy summer.
Jessica Mayer, DO | Program Director Suburban Family Medicine Residency
Vice-Chair Family Medicine Department
Dr. Mayer sees patients of all ages and is dedicated to providing compassionate care for the whole person. She is board certified in Family Medicine and director of Suburban Family Medicine Residency program and vice-chair of Family Medicine Department at Suburban Community Hospital.
Dr. Mayer completed her medical education at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2008, internship at Crozer-Chester Medical Center (Pennsylvania) in 2009, and residency at Mercy Suburban Hospital (Philadelphia) in 2011.
Suburban Family Medicine at Norristown
2705 DeKalb Pike, Suite 202
Norristown, PA 19401