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Simple ways to protect your family from mosquitoes

young girl itching mosquito bite on her arm
Simple ways to protect your family from mosquitoes

Summer in the Midwest means warmer weather, longer days and the arrival of a particularly pesky insect that loves to bite: mosquitoes. When mosquitoes pierce your skin, they inject varied chemicals and trigger a hypersensitivity response. The result? Red, hive-like bumps that form at the site of the bite.

"We strongly encourage patients to take action and minimize insect bites, since mosquitoes are capable of transmitting serious infections that can disrupt summer fun," says Megan Meller, Gundersen Infection Control.

Protect your family with these tips.

What are the best ways to repel mosquitoes?

  • Use an insect repellent on your skin and clothing.
  • Look for lotions, sprays, and other products that contain an effective repellent such as DEET or permethrin. You also can use picaridin, which is a manmade version of a repellent found in pepper plants, or—for a more natural approach—oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE). Note: DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months old and OLE should not be used on children younger than 3 years old.

See what repellent is right for you by viewing the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered list of repellents.

Is wearing insect repellent my only defense?

Putting on insect repellent is recommended, but you also can prevent mosquito bites by:

  • Wearing protective clothing, such as long sleeves, pants, socks and closed-toed shoes.
  • Taking care of your yard by removing standing water, mowing the lawn frequently and reducing brush, tall grasses and leaf litter—all places where mosquitoes like to breed.
  • Avoiding going outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

Is it true that mosquitoes like to bite some people more than others?

Yes! If someone is sweaty or has a higher body temperature (e.g., they just got done working out), mosquitoes are more attracted to them. Mosquitoes also are drawn to people who emit more carbon dioxide when breathing, such as pregnant women, people drinking alcohol and those exercising.

How can I get mosquito bites to stop itching?

If a mosquito bites you, apply a topical hydrocortisone ointment to the site immediately and take an antihistamine.

Can I do anything to make mosquito bites go away faster?

Speaking of hydrocortisone ointment and antihistamines, one of the best ways to shorten the lifespan of a mosquito bite is to avoid itching it. Regardless, the red bump can last anywhere from several hours to a few days.

Love summer in the Tri-state Area but could live without mosquitoes and other nuisances like poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac? Learn how to identify and treat these common plant rashes.

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