As people start getting more active as the weather gets warmer, insects also start getting more active.  While bug bites may seem to be only a mere annoyance, lethal diseases, such as malaria, can be transmitted as well.  If you plan on travelling abroad to tropical or equatorial regions, it is especially important that you take measures to prevent insect bites.  Below are some prevention measures to keep in mind if you plan on spending time outside domestically or internationally.

  • Insect netting can be used to protect against mosquitoes, biting flies, spiders, and ticks.  It comes as personal body netting, equipment netting, or as a hanging net.  Permethrin treated nets are the most effective.  Keep in mind that 200-600 holes/inch will help with mosquitoes, however if you need protection against smaller insects (like sand flies), you will need a net with 600+ holes/inch.
  • The CDC recommends DEET, picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus as the most effective repellants and can be used for protection against aggressive international mosquitoes.
    • DEET
      • Apply only to exposed surface areas, such as the face and hands being careful not to apply to broken or irritated skin.  Washing hands after use is recommended and it is also advised to wash the product off when no longer needed.  Remember to reapply based on the product, activity level, and environment.
      • Products that are 10-35% DEET are the most effective.  Any product that is 50%+ won’t provide any stronger of protection, but they will last longer than lower percent products.
      • DEET is safe for use on children.
      • Avoid combination products with DEET and sunscreen.  The SPF value in the sunscreen can be decreased by 33% if applied simultaneously with DEET.  Apply sunscreen first, wait 1-2 hours, then apply the DEET for maximum protection.
      • If overnight protection is needed, look for sustained release products.  These products will have a lower percentage of DEET, however because of their special formulation they can last from 8-12 hours.
    • Picaridin
      • Can provide up to 4 hours of protection at 20% concentration.
      • Some advantages over DEET include: non-greasy, odorless, won’t dissolve plastics in clothing.
    • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (PMD)
      • A concentration of 30% PMD is equivalent to 20% DEET
      • This product needs to be applied more frequently (at least every 3-4 hours) than DEET.  This could pose problems for people who need overnight protection.
      • This product has not been specifically tested on aggressive international mosquitoes.  If traveling abroad, it is advised to consider using DEET or picardin instead.
      • A hallmark characteristic of this product is that it is slightly sticky, but has a pleasant odor.
    • Premethrin is an insecticide that is effective against lice, ticks, fleas, mites, mosquitoes, and other arthropods.  As mentioned previously, soaking insect nets in this product provides the most protection if using an insect net.  This product can also be sprayed or soaked on clothes.  This product will not work if applied to skin, only to fabrics.  This product is a good compliment to use in combination with a repellant, especially if traveling to an area with known dangerous insects.
  • The CDC does not recommend using garlic, vitamin B1, electronic repellants, citronella candles, or anything that you strap to your wrist for effective insect protection.  Simply put, these products are not effective at repelling insects.