Mosquitoes 101

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Thanks to this summer’s record rainfall, the mosquitoes are out in full force, making it almost impossible to be outside, even during the day. They are more than a nuisance. Mosquitoes may carry a number of deadly diseases, including malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile virus and encephalitis. Read on to discover what you can do to protect yourself this summer without staying inside.

 

Why are there so many?

Rain itself does not cause a bumper crop of mosquitoes. When it rains day after day, excess water does not have an opportunity to dry up, resulting in standing water. Standing water is the ultimate breeding ground for the female mosquito to lay her eggs – and she only needs a few inches. Check around your home and look for standing water: birdbaths, wading pools, garbage can lids, flower pots, and gutters all offer the perfect breeding ground for the mosquitoes. Be vigilant and dump the water at least every 2 days. Check your windows and screens to be sure they can’t get inside!

 

Why do mosquitoes love me?

Are you one of those people who get “eaten alive” when no one else is getting bit? Is it true that you are sweeter than others? (maybe…) Actually, it is all in your DNA.

Have you seen those unfortunate people with giant mosquito bites? They are suffering from Skeeter Syndrome. Skeeter Syndrome is an allergic reaction to mosquito saliva, resulting in large, localized swelling. These giant welts look worse than they are, and usually resolve within 3 to 10 days. Skeeter Syndrome is common in children who have not yet developed an immune response to mosquitoes. Over time, however, they will become naturally desensitized to the saliva and will not have this allergic reaction. Parents need to pay special attention to their children’s mosquito bites (large and small) and discourage scratching if at all possible. Excess scratching can lead to an infection called bacterial cellulitis. If you notice scabbing, pus, fever or anything else that looks out of the ordinary, please contact our office.

 

How can I stop the itch and protect my family?

As kids, our first line of treatment against a mosquito bite was using our fingernail to engrave an “x” on the bite to stop the itch. We know you did it too! Calamine lotion and antihistamines such as Benadryl also provided relief. Today there are many natural remedies to stop the itch that include ice, lemon/lime juice, cold tea bags, toothpaste, witch hazel, basil…the list goes on. A quick Google search will turn up a remedy with a household item you already have in your pantry.

Of course prevention is the best cure. Staying inside and wearing long sleeves and pants are the best ways to avoid mosquitoes, but that is not always desirable or possible. Mosquito repellents containing DEET or picaridin are most effective at keeping them away. In addition to the traditional spray repellents, marketers have developed wristbands and clip-on devices that claim to keep mosquitoes away for extended periods of time without enduring a chemical “residue” on the skin. Some people claim that putting a dryer sheet in your pocket will also deter the little buggers. Citronella candles or a fire outside will also help keep the bugs away.

For those looking for a more natural approach, lemon oil and Eucalyptus oil are popular choices. Brands such as “Honest” and “Burt’s Bees” make nice herbal alternatives to the chemical repellents. Be sure to contact your pediatrician before applying any insect repellent to babies less than 6 months old.

 

Don’t let the mosquitoes bug you this summer. Take the bite out of the summer and protect yourself and your family with our helpful hints!