The Bugs Are Out! How Can I Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Nothing gets people racing for cover quite like “the bugs are out.” Not only do mosquito bites cause itchiness and swelling, but they also put you at risk for mosquito-borne illnesses. These include malaria, West Nile virus, and Eastern equine encephalitis (aka “Triple E”).

Preventative Measures

Luckily, there are several ways to prevent mosquito bites. Preventative methods usually come in sprays, which contain DEET, Icaridin, and oil from lemon eucalyptus. DEET is the longest lasting repellent, and can be found in repellent brands such as OFF. When applying repellent, follow the “spray it, don’t say it” rule: keep your eyes and mouth shut.

Dress to protect. Wear long pants and long sleeves. Close-toed shoes are the best option, especially if you’re hiking, biking, or walking long distances. You may also want to wear a hat that covers your ears. Some hats even come with mosquito netting so you can cover your face.

Know where the vermin are setting up shop. Mosquitoes typically live in warm, damp environments with a lot of vegetation, such as swamps and marshes. If you’re going to be near those kinds of areas, make sure that you spray repellent generously every couple of hours. Mosquitoes tend to come out at dusk, so move things indoors when the sun starts to set.

If You’ve Already Been Bitten

If you’ve already been bitten, you may start to notice itchiness, swelling, and redness around the site of the mosquito bite. Most of these symptoms manifest the day after, and clear up within a few days. However, they can intervene with daily life, and some are severe enough to warrant a visit to the doctor.

Mosquito bites manifest most commonly in the form of an itchy bump that is hard to the touch. Apply a hydrocortisone ointment to the site to relieve itching and swelling. Calamine lotion for mild itchiness is also a good option. All of these are available as an OTC medication; you can find them at any pharmacy or supermarket. Other options for relief are cold compresses and OTC oral antihistamines such as cetirizine.  

Do not scratch or pick at the bite. This will only delay the healing process. Furthermore, it can lead to infection and scarring. If you think that this may be a problem, cover the site with liquid bandaid.


Mosquito bites. Mayo Clinic. Published October 22, 2015. Accessed June 13, 2017.