How can I protect myself from mosquitoes?

Rabiya Suleman, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
To protect yourself from mosquitoes and prevent mosquito bites, you should:
  • wear long sleeved shirts and long pants
  • stay in air-conditioned areas
  • use screens to keep mosquitoes outside
  • take steps to control mosquitoes inside the home
  • use repellant with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or other Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered repellent
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Mosquitoes can be annoying and carry diseases. But keeping them at bay doesn't mean you need to drench you and your property in carcinogenic pesticides or insecticides. Instead use a natural repellant that contains essential oils such as lemon, eucalyptus, and lavender. Burning citronella candles outdoors, staying indoors at high biting times, and removing still water where mosquitoes lay eggs is a healthier strategy.
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Stephen H. Atkins, PhD
Integrative Medicine

Are you a mosquito magnet? As odd as it sounds some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others. You sit outside in the evening and the battle begins. Do you smother yourself with bug juice or begin the swatting game? So, why are some people always the lucky ones? Well, the answer might surprise you. Mosquitoes are attracted to mild acids, so that means CO2 and lactic acid. We can’t do much about the CO2 we give off as we breathe, but we can do something about excess lactic acid.

People that are high in lactic acid typically have diets that are high in refined carbohydrates and hydrogenated fats. As you know a diet high in refined carbohydrates naturally depletes B vitamins and trace minerals. This promotes an increase of lactic acid. Since the blood can only handle so much, the body uses the skin as a source of elimination. Think about it. You are sitting around the deck while everyone is laughing and attracting the little guys through the normal metabolism of CO2 expulsion. But, ah ha! Someone in the crowd is a little sweeter due to the excess lactic acid. Who’s the mosquito going to set up their drilling station on? It’s not only mosquitoes that like lactic acid, fleas seem to favor the same people.

So how do we turn off the mosquito magnet? Obviously, we want to reduce refined carbs and bad fats and supplement with a B complex that is high in thiamin. Perhaps, you remember the Krebs cycle from biology. If you follow the dreaded circle you find that B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, lipoic acid, and even Coenzyme Q are needed to get the maximum amount of ATP from glucose. But the rate limiting factors are generally B1 (Thiamine) or B2 (Riboflavin).

Maybe your biology is a little foggy, but the Glycolysis cycle yields 2 units of ATP. However, if you break down glucose completely through the Krebs cycle and the electron transport chain, you get 38 units of ATP. So by making sure that you have all the co-factors necessary for the body to do its job we will not only have less swatting on those summer nights, but you will have more energy all day long.

Other symptoms of B1 deficiencies are an increased anion gap of 14 or over, low CO2, and or elevated blood sugar. People who are on high blood pressure medications and diuretics are almost always low in thiamin.

There are several ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Wear long sleeves and pants in the evening, when mosquitoes are out. Repellents should contain DEET. There are also repellents for your yard, such as candles, torches, and coils. If you are traveling outside the United States, see your doctor to discuss whether malaria prophylaxis is indicated.
Clifford W. Bassett, MD
Allergy & Immunology

To repel mosquitoes, there is a variety of N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET)-containing insect repellent products ranging from a concentration of 5-10 percent, all the way up to 30-40 percent. The strength of the DEET will dictate how long (hours) you may remain "bite-free." Alternatively, natural (eucalyptus oils, etc.) insect repellent products are available. Use these products as directed on the label.

The best way to protect yourself from mosquitos is to apply chemical or natural insect repellants; sitting near a fan can help, too! In this video, allergist Clifford Bassett, MD, discusses his favorite ways to avoid pesky, itchy mosquito bites.

Peter DeLucia
Health Education
Here are a few tips to help protect you and your family from mosquitoes! 

Make sure all your windows have tight-fitting screens.

Keep your property as water-free as possible. Get the leaves cleaned from your gutters, as they can allow for water to collect, providing a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Make sure to empty water-filled dishes underneath potted plants. Pay attention to garbage can covers, rain barrels and anything on your property, even small items, that can collect water.

Change the water in bird baths. It only takes a week to 10 days for a mosquito to lay its eggs, have those eggs turn into larvae and have those larvae turn into biting adult mosquitoes.

If you’re not using a swimming pool that has water in it, use chlorine bleach or a Mosquito Dunk to kill the mosquitoes in their larval stage.

When using propane mosquito traps, place them far away from your house and where you and your family congregate. While the devices may kill mosquitoes, they attract the insects to your property.

Carefully follow directions on labels when using insect repellents and pesticides. Remember: "The label is the law.’’ If you do not follow the label, you can harm yourself, your family, or the environment.
Bug repellent that contains the chemicals DEET or picaridin can do a lot to keep mosquitoes at bay. If you prefer an option with fewer chemicals, you may use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus.

You and your family should wear long sleeves and pants when in mosquito-dense areas. Products containing permethrin may be applied to clothing, shoes or camping gear to keep mosquitoes and other insects away. It should not be applied directly to your skin.

If your yard has a lot of mosquitoes, you may consider getting a barrier spray treatment done during the outdoor months. These treatments may use sprays containing a broad-spectrum pesticide or a natural repellant like garlic juice, so be sure to ask what the active ingredient is. Most barrier sprays will keep mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, gnats and some other insects away for about three to four weeks.

When outdoors, avoid going near pools of standing water, because stagnant water tends to be a breeding ground for the insects. If you have containers in your yard that can collect standing water, such as buckets or watering cans, be sure to empty them after it rains.

Parents may also ask their healthcare providers about vaccinations against mosquito-borne conditions, as well as obtain tips on what to do when a serious virus is suspected. When in doubt, see medical care.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.