Mosquito Avoidance


Dr Deb Mills

Moisture, warmth, carbon dioxide and odour all attract ‘mozzies’, and some unlucky people seem to be genetically more delicious to mosquitoes.

Cover up – long sleeved, light coloured clothes
Try and avoid being outside when they are biting. If you are outside between dusk and dawn, wear treated, long sleeved shirts, long pants, and long socks. Light coloured clothes are best. Dark colours attract mosquitoes. Strong scents also attract them, so avoid perfumes etc.

30% DEET is the best
‘DEET’ (Diethyl toluamide) is clinically proven to be the most effective mosquito repellent to apply on your skin e.g. Repel™ or Rid™. Repellents work by blocking the receptors on the mosquitoes antennae. A concentration of 30% DEET is recommended for adults under conditions of intense mosquito exposure. Concentrations greater than 50% DEET are usually not recommended. In field trials, DEET products on the skin have been found to be more effective than coils, ‘mozzie plants’, citronella candles, sonic repellers, and UV light lures. DEET can damage plastics, synthetic fabrics, leather and painted or varnished materials so be careful with eye glasses, cameras etc. DEET has no effect on cotton, wool or nylon or skin(!) DEET has been on the market for 45 years and side effects are rare if used properly.

Apply regularly
Apply regularly as per instructions on the bottle (for 30% DEET usually every 4-5 hours). Don’t forget your neck and ankles. Use just enough repellent to lightly cover your skin. You do not need to saturate your skin. Never use repellent over cuts, wounds or inflamed skin. After application, wipe or wash the repellent off your palms to avoid inadvertent contact with your eyes, mouth and other sensitive areas. Don’t apply repellent to children’s hands if they are likely to put their hands in their mouth. Ideally, wash off the repellent when you no longer need it.

Sleeping precautions
Sleeping in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms is the ideal. Use a ‘knock down spray’ if necessary to remove stray mosquitoes. The next best plan is to sleep under a permethrin-treated mosquito net. Check there are no holes in the net, and tuck the edges under the mattress. If mosquitoes are already inside the net, spray them with insecticide before you go to bed. As a last resort burn mosquito coils, cover exposed skin in insect repellent, and sleep next to a fan.

Did you know … mixing sunscreen and repellent?

When sunscreen is required, apply sunscreen first, wait 20 minutes and then apply repellent. Combination products are not as effective.

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