Want to repel and prevent insects from feasting on you this summer? We’ve collected a few simple ways to help keep you and your home mosquito-free.
More than just an annoying buzz in your ear or itchy bite, mosquitoes are pesky critters that can put a damper on your time spent outdoors. When the weather is warm, don’t let the threat of bug bites keep you indoors.
An easy way to prevent mosquito bites is by using repellent. If you’re going through cancer treatment, your skin may be sensitive. Talk to your care team about the best products to use on your skin.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends using products with one of the following ingredients, which have been evaluated for safety and provide long-lasting protection:
Oil of lemon eucalyptus
Research has consistently shown DEET to be the most effective insect repellent. It works by making it harder for mosquitoes to smell you.
Reviews by the EPA consistently find DEET is safe to use and doesn’t cause cancer in humans or animals.
Repellents with DEET come in a wide range of concentrations. The higher the concentration, the longer the product lasts. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found no benefit to products with concentrations over 50 percent.
When using DEET products, be sure to:
Use them only as directed.
Never use repellents with DEET in cuts, wounds or on irritated skin.
Avoid spraying repellent directly on your face. Spray it on your hands first, and carefully pat on your face.
When you’re in for the day, wash your skin with soap and water.
Mosquitoes and the Sun
If you want to keep bugs away and your skin protected from the sun, skip two-in-one sunscreens and bug repellents. Research has found these combination lotions are less effective at protecting your skin from the sun. You also need to reapply sunscreen more frequently than bug spray.
For the most effective protection from damaging UV rays and mosquito bites, use separate products. To maximize coverage, first apply sunscreen. Then apply the mosquito repellent.
Beyond Sprays and Lotions
There are simple things you can do to help keep your skin free of mosquito bites, in addition to wearing mosquito repellent. Be sure to:
Wear loose clothing that covers your skin whenever you go outdoors.
Avoid outdoor activity at dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
Use citronella candles to help repel mosquitoes when you're outdoors.
Use fans in outdoor seating areas to help keep mosquitoes from landing on you.
Currently, the EPA doesn’t recommend or certify using essential oils to repel mosquitoes. An analysis by Consumer Reports found botanical products made with peppermint, geraniol and rosemary are unlikely to cause harm, but they also won’t protect you from mosquitoes.
Before using any oil on your skin, discuss it with your care team. Remember, natural products can still cause skin irritations and other reactions.
A Mosquito-Free Home
Keep your home from becoming an all-you-can-eat buffet for mosquitoes by removing things that create an ideal mosquito habitat.
Remove Standing Water
The ideal spot for mosquitoes to lay their eggs is in stagnant water. Keep rain gutters, buckets, plastic covers and other containers free of standing water.
By emptying and changing the water in pet bowls, bird baths, fountains, rain barrels and flowerpot dishes each week, you can help keep your yard from becoming a mosquito breeding ground.
If you have small ponds or other standing water on your property, add larvicide to the water to make your space less appealing to mosquitoes.
Create a Barrier Around Your Home
Be sure to treat grassy areas with a granular insecticide. Regular lawn mowing and shrub trimming also reduces shady spots where mosquitoes like to hide during the day.
Keep mosquitoes out of your home by closing windows, when possible. Using screens can help add a layer of protection when it gets hot, and doors and windows need to be open. When your window and door screens get damaged, stay current with repairs.
Beyond being a pest, mosquitoes can also transmit dangerous, and sometimes deadly, diseases to humans. These include:
Chikungunya (pronounced chik-en-gun-ye)
Dengue (pronounced deŋ-gē)
While these diseases can occur in the United States, they are rare. Experts encourage everyone to use mosquito repellent when outdoors, minimize exposure with long-sleeve shirts and pants, as well as eliminate places where mosquitoes lay eggs around your home to help lower your risk of infection.