Guide to surviving mosquito bites

Ok, a slightly dramatic title, but to the people who always seem to get bitten the most, it really does feel like an epic battle sometimes! I am one of those people, my bites swell up to 2 cm across, and the worst night I had 65 bites below the knees (that leafy green garden restaurant ain’t sounding so attractive now, is it)?  So if you get bitten a lot, or react particularly badly to bites, then here is my personal mosquito survival guide! (I should state I’m not a doctor, just a person who gets bitten a lot, this info is purely my approach)!

When we moved here people told me – you’ll get used to the bites, after 3 months you won’t even feel them, if you do get bitten they won’t bother you anymore…. Well people – after two years, I can confirm you are not right. I won’t go all out and say you’re wrong, because I think my reactions have calmed down a bit to the local mosquitos. Whenever we travel both Mr and I both notice a difference in the reaction to bites. 

We’ve lived in Thailand for two years now, and I think I’ve learned just about everything I can about these little suckers. So, I thought some of you out there might benefit from the knowledge I’ve learned:

  • Mosquitoes like dark colours, especially black and dark blue. This is because they settle on dark colours to hide. Wear light and bright colours especially at night.
  • Prime mosquito time is dusk, ie, an hour before and after the sun sets. We tend to stay inside during peak biting time if possible.
  • That said, mosquitoes are around any time of day. We find they like to hide under tables especially where there are lots of people. Think food courts in shopping malls, outdoor restaurant tables and coffee shops. You stop for a snack and the mosquitoes do too – free buffet!! Try to chose a table with less shade or sit with your legs not completely under the table.
  • They are attracted to sweat, so shower before going out. (Thai’s shower a minimum of twice a day)! 
  • If you are going to be sat outside in the evening, try to cover up your legs. I wear trousers, and last winter took to wearing converse high tops as my feet kept getting bitten all over! Or if you are going for legs out, you could use a wrap around your legs while sitting.  
  • If sat outside, choose a table near a fan, mosquitoes will find it harder to fly in the breeze.

Mosquito repellent is a must for me. I prefer natural products in all areas of my life, however sometimes you have to go with what you find works best! I use Jaico brand (which despite Thai writing all over it is actually from Belgium!) It’s 24% deet, I know there are opinions on this, but I chose to live with the chemical risk as I’ve found this brand works better than any other (and honestly, I’ve tried a lot of brands)! This bottle was 340 baht, and will last a while as each application last for 7 hrs.

The new thing my Thai friend with a baby introduced me to was Johnson’s baby clear lotion anti-mosquito – this also works pretty well! The active ingredient in this one is the same as the Avon skin so soft lotion which others seem to swear by, but the Avon product didn’t work for me….See a picture here (no it’s not me selling it!) you will find it in big supermarkets like Tesco Lotus and Big C and some pharmacies. 

Mosquitoes and a lot f insects in fact, do not like strong smelling plants. So to help ward off pests from outside spaces, try growing lemongrass, lemon balm and mint. Also applying citrus essential oils to places you generate heat can also help, like armpits, backs of knees and neck. 

Ok, those are my top prevention tips, and here are my top tips if you do get bitten. The classic try-not-to-itch-them rule applies, however my favourite mosquito bite remedy is Dermovate cream. This is a corticosteriod so it’s not to be used excessively, but boy does it work. Again, I’ve been given so many creams over the years, and this one works best, hands down. Just apply a teeny weeny bit to the bite, don’t touch it again and within 10 minutes you’ve forgotten it’s there (until you knock it accidentally that is)! 

The one exception to not messing with bites, is if you get a really hard, raised red bump with a tiny blister on top. These seem to be a different type of mosquito, but the locals advised me to burst the blister and get the fluid out. I scar pretty easily, so I didn’t want to do it unless really necessary. So I burst 2 and left the others.The result of my (highly scientific) experiment was that the locals were right. The unburst ones stayed for 2 weeks whereas the burst ones went down in 3 days. The blisters re-formed, but you just burst them again (sorry for the eeewwwww factor there).

And the last tip comes courtesy of Mr after he had some particularly big bites a few weeks ago. He read somewhere that a hot spoon on the bite kills the itch – so he tried it and we can now both confirm it works! use kettle-hot water and a metal spoon, and dab onto the bite until it’s a temperature you can bear, then press on until no longer hot. Apparently the mosquito injects an enzyme which stops blood clotting, and this also makes you itch. The heat from the spoon kills the enzyme and voila! No more itching! 

So the last thing to mention is Dengue fever – which visitors often ask about. This is a risk with tiger mosquitoes – the ones that are dressed like the wicked witch with stripy black and white legs. These suckers have a much more painful bite, you often actually feel them when they bite you! They are also more prevalent in the daytime, usually in countryside areas, but Bangkok can be bad too. A few of my friends have had Dengue, and the symptoms seem to vary per person. One chap felt like he just had a heavy cold, but with a temperature. One lady was so exhausted she slept for like a week. As with most things it’s the young, old or frail that get hit worst. If you feel like you have flu including aching all over – go get checked. One remedy is papaya leaf tincture, tea or juice – many I know have taken it and it’s really helped. Of course it tastes disgusting, but that’s because it’s sooooo good for you – just use young leaves without the stems.

These are my top tips, and if you have any others please share- you can never have too much information!!!