6 Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites and Stay Itch-Free

By Matt Longman | 07/12/2017

Summer is here, which means warmer temperatures, sunny days, and trips to the pool or beach. But with the increase in heat and water-related activities also means an increased risk of mosquitoes. In the past few years, prevention against mosquitoes has become of greater importance with the spread of West Nile Virus, and most recently the Zika Virus.

The threat of mosquitoes shouldn’t keep you and your family from enjoying the summer fun, but there are some easy precautions you can take to stay safe and reduce the risk of mosquito bites. Here are some of the top ways to ward off unwanted pests while still enjoying days in the sun and those long summer nights.

1. Rub on some bug spray that contains DEET

OFF!® and Banana Boat® both make bug spray repellents that are safe and effective for keeping bugs at bay. To apply bug spray effectively, spray it on your hands and rub it onto your ankles, elbows, wrists, forehead, and all the other places where your skin is thin. This is where mosquitoes love to feed. Do NOT spray DEET on your body and clothes like it's perfume. If it isn’t spread on your skin, it won’t work.

Much like sunscreen, it’s important to reapply bug spray if you’re going to be outside for a long time. If you'll be outside for 90 minutes or less, a product with 7% to 10% DEET will do the job, but you should reapply to extend its protection.

2. Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors

One of the best ways to keep mosquitoes from biting you is to simply cover your skin. If you’re going to be working in the yard or in heavily wooded fields, be sure to wear loose, long sleeves and pant legs to cover as much skin as possible. Mosquitoes can sometimes bite through clothing that's held tight against the skin, especially if the fabric is thin.

3. Avoid standing water

Mosquitoes love water—especially standing water. When you think of standing water, you may picture lakes, stagnant creeks, bogs, marshes, and swamps—and you’d be right. But these mosquito havens can also pop up around the house. For example, a kiddy pool left out in the sun for several days can turn into a hotbed for mosquitoes. Even puddles that form in natural low points in your yard and potted plants with water basins can attract mosquitoes who want to lay their eggs in stagnant water. To prevent a mosquito invasion, empty that kiddy pool when your kids are done swimming for the day.

4. Add more vitamin B-1 to your diet

According to the Mayo Clinic, taking a daily dose of 75 to 150 milligrams of vitamin B-1 (thiamin) could slightly change your scent in a way that might keep mosquitoes away.

5. Use catnip oil

A 2001 study shows that this natural repellent is 10 times more effective than DEET. Since then, scientists have been studying its repellent effects, and the Dow Chemical Company is in the process of getting EPA registration for a new catnip-based product. You'll repel mosquitoes wearing the stuff—but you might attract cats!

6. Wear white

Dark colors attract mosquitoes like no other—supposedly because they look like the dark fur of animals they normally prey on. Wear light, bright colors to make yourself less attractive to feeders.

Summer should be a season for fun, not for treating itchy bites and sunburns. Stay safe this summer by exercising safely in the heat and following healthy travel habits.