13 Ways to Prevent Bug Bites: Tips To Reduce the Risk When Travelling
Do you want to prevent bug bites when travelling?
If you’ve been following me for a while then you will know that no matter where I travel or what time of year it is, mosquitos and other insects are drawn to me. While it wouldn’t be too much of an issue if they caused me a little bit of itchiness, I have something called ‘Skeeter Syndrome’ which means that I often end up having really bad allergic reactions.
Over the course of the last few years, I have picked up lots of tips of tricks to help me reduce the risk of getting bitten and while none of them is foolproof, they’ve certainly helped me over the years.
Right, let’s get started, shall we? This article will share tips on how to reduce the risk of getting bitten by bugs while exploring new places.
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When are you at risk of bug bites?
Mosquitos, ticks, and fleas can all bite you at any time of day, but there are certain activities and environments that increase your risk.
Some of the most common times when people get bitten by bugs are:
- While outdoors in nature (hiking, camping, etc)
- When spending time in wooded areas
- When spending time in grassy fields or pastures
- While gardening, yard work, etc.
For me, I don’t have to be doing anything out of the ordinary to get bitten but if you really want to avoid it, these are the types of situations you should be staying away from (or increasing your protection for).
Why is it important to prevent bug bites?
It’s best not to rely on your body’s natural defences against bugs since they are unreliable and ineffective for many people. Many insects have developed resistance to insecticides, so using repellent strategies is one of the best ways to protect yourself.
How do you know when you’ve been bitten by a bug?
It can be difficult to determine if you’ve been bitten by a bug, as many bites look similar. Typical symptoms of a bug bite include:
- small raised bumps, redness, itchiness
Some more serious symptoms that may occur include:
- extreme redness and swelling, pain, yellowing skin, puss, blood and a fever
When should you see a doctor?
If you are experiencing any of the above serious symptoms after being bitten by a bug, it is best to seek medical attention. In some cases, an insect bite may result in an infection or other serious health complications.
I’ve had a number of situations where I have had to go to the doctor or minute clinic because of bug bites and I am thankful that I had travel insurance while doing so. Medical care while travelling can be incredibly expensive, so ensure you have up to date insurance when you travel as you never know what could happen.
How can I stop bugs from biting me when travelling?
There are many ways that you can reduce your chances of being bit during travel. Not every method will work for you, so a little bit of trial and error is definitely needed. Some of these steps include:
Mosquitos are repelled by Deet, so using a product that contains this ingredient is a good way to keep them at bay. There are lots of different Deet products on the market, so make sure you’re looking for things that contain more than 50% Deet in order for them to be effective. One option I like to get (and one of the only options in the UK) is Jungle Formula.
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
If you don’t want to use a Deet based product, oil of lemon eucalyptus is another option that has been shown to be effective in keeping mosquitoes away.
Consider Permethrin-treated clothing
Another way to prevent mosquito bites is by covering your skin with clothing that has been treated with permethrin (a chemical insecticide). Permethrin-treated clothing can be purchased at many retailers, but this may not work for everyone because some people are sensitive to chemicals and others may not want to use clothing treated with insecticides.
Avoid Fragrances That Attract Mosquitos And Other Bugs
Many people don’t realize that mosquitoes are attracted to fragrances, so avoiding heavily scented body lotions, shampoos and other personal care products can help reduce your risk of getting bit.
Fragrances that are known to attract mosquitos and other bugs are usually floral ones, so make sure to switch things up if you usually choose a floral scent.
Cover Up Where Possible
Mosquitos and other bugs can bite through thin clothing, so covering up as much of your body as possible with loose-fitting long sleeve shirts and pants is a great way to reduce the risk. While we know this may be difficult in warmer weather, lightweight and breathable clothing are going to be your best bet.
Focus On Sweat Management (Mosquitos Love Sweat)
Mosquitos are attracted to sweat, so managing your perspiration is key. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and avoid working up a sweat by doing things like wearing excessive layers or exercising outdoors during peak biting hours (typically dusk and dawn).
For me, as a plus size traveller who naturally sweats a lot this can be hard, but it’s something I try to keep an eye on if I am finding I’m getting more bites than I normally do. If you have trouble minimising your sweat, focussing on the other tips and tricks in this guide may be a much better option for you.
Apply Insect Repellent Correctly
In order for insect repellents to be effective, they must be applied correctly. If you aren’t using repellent correctly, it could be making the situation worse instead of better - either by being used incorrectly or not at all!
When applying insect repellents follow these steps: shake can well before use; hold approximately six inches away from the skin and spray in a sweeping motion covering exposed skin; avoid contact with eyes and mouth; do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
Reapply Insect Repellent As Needed
In order for insect repellents to be effective, they must be reapplied as needed. The amount of time between applications will depend on the type of repellent you are using, the amount of exposure to mosquitoes, and the size of the person.
Products with DEET should be reapplied every two hours, while oil of lemon eucalyptus products should be applied every four hours.
Insect repellents containing permethrin can provide protection for up to six days if used as directed on the product label.
Important: When using any type of insect repellent, be sure to follow the instructions on the product label. Do not use more than is recommended, and do not apply it over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin. Reapply as needed, especially if you are sweating or in contact with water.
Hang Mosquito Netting
If you’re staying in a place with mosquitos, such as a cabin or tent, consider hanging mosquito netting around your sleeping area. This is something you can pick up for an affordable price and that packs away small, so it should always be in your suitcase.
Be Extra Vigilant When Traveling to Areas With Known Outbreaks
Keep an eye on any known outbreaks of Zika virus, malaria or dengue fever before and during your travels. Knowing where these outbreaks are occurring will help you to take extra precautions. The CDC website is great for sharing this info on a regular basis, but it may also help to set up news alerts on your phone during your travels.
Wear Closed-Toe Shoes When Walking Through Grass
When walking through tall grass, it’s a good idea to wear closed-toe shoes as opposed to sandals or open-toe shoes. This will help to protect your feet from any bugs or spiders that may be hiding in the grass. Hiking shoes are probably going to be your best option in terms of support and protection.
Be Wary Of Standing Water
Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and bugs. Always be on the lookout around standing/still ponds, rivers or even puddles of water after it’s rained. These are all great places where mosquitos can breed so keep this in mind when you’re travelling to more tropical countries with lots of rain!
When I visited the swamps in Louisianna I was caught off guard and ended up leaving with lots of painful souvenirs.
If You’re Camping, Make Sure You’re Keeping Your Tent Closed At All Times
Sleeping under the stars can be great fun but if you’re camping, make sure that your tent is closed up at all times! Make sure to check it over before going to bed. If it’s dark, you can use your phone torch or headtorch to attract any bugs to the light. It’s a little tricky but is much easier than hunting for bugs in the dark, believe me.
In conclusion, there are lots of different ways to reduce your risk of being bitten while travelling. They may not all work for you, but a combination of the above will definitely make your travels that little bit easier when it comes to pesky little bugs.