How to Prevent (and Treat) Mosquito Bites, According to Experts
By Lauren Ro│ New York Magazine│3 min
Lauren Ro is interested in baby gear (she’s a new mom) and the ins-and-outs of decorating a home. Prior to the Strategist, she was a writer at Curbed, and before that was Wes Anderson’s assistant.
The easiest way to avoid mosquitoes (and in particular the female ones, who are the biters) is to make sure there is no standing water anywhere near you. “I’m talking about clogged gutters, tree holes, kids’ toys, tires, bird baths, drip saucers that are under plants, even a pile of leaves,” says Dr. Stan Cope, a.k.a. Captain Stan the Mosquito Man, a retired medical entomologist in the United States Navy and currently the vice president of technical services at pest management company Catchmaster. But there are some folks, standing water or not, who are just more susceptible to bites than others. While carbon dioxide is the number-one thing that mosquitoes are attracted to, your “own unique chemical signature,” as Cope calls it, might also contribute to your appeal. (And contrary to what you might have heard, diet has nothing to do with it.) But according to Dr. Michael Bentley, entomologist for the National Pest Management Association, why a female mosquito, which has very sophisticated senses, might be attracted to one person over another, is really a mystery. “Scientists are still working out the specifics,” he says, “for what combination of the over 200 different chemicals and compounds produced through human skin that make some people more appealing to mosquitoes than others.” Below, expert advice on the most effective treatments and personal repellents for keeping mosquitoes from nipping at you this summer.OFF! Deep Woods Mosquito and Insect Repellent Towelettes
One might think a spray is the best way to go, but Cope says that he personally prefers impregnated wipes (ones that are soaked in the solution and are ready to use). “They’re particularly good for kids because you can just do a better job of spreading it around and getting it where you want it to go,” as opposed to an aerosol can. These towelettes from Off contain 25 percent DEET and are recommended by Strategist contributor Maureen O’Connor, who has “hospitalization-level allergies to several North American insects.” “For on-the-go mosquito-repelling, nothing beats a wet wipe,” she writes. “It’s quick, easy, and can be deployed in a bathroom stall without anyone noticing.”$4
For something with a higher concentration of DEET, which again means that it will stay on longer, O’Connor recommends Repel’s towelettes, which contain 30 percent of the active ingredient.
Bti, which is registered with the EPA, also comes in the form of corn-kernel-like granules that release the larvicide more quickly than the donuts, which dissolve over time. When used as directed, Bti is nontoxic to other wildlife, pets, fish, and humans.Shoo For Good The Camellia Lightweight Wrap in Cloud
Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones swears by this cotton shawl from Shoo for Good that’s handwoven in Ethiopia and is “enhanced with odorless, invisible, EPA-registered Insect Shield protection,” according to the product description. (Insect Shield also makes its own permethrin spray and a line of permethrin-treated clothing.) “I am somebody who gets bitten by mosquitoes all the time,” says Zeta-Jones. “It really, really repels. It also doesn’t have any kind of smell — unlike bug spray or even other pashminas, this is odorless.” Like other permethrin-impregnated clothing, this one can be washed up to 70 times before it loses its efficacy.
For something a little more affordable, consider this treated T-shirt from Insect Shield.Cortizone-10 Plus Ultra Moisturizing Cream$7
Bentley and Debboun also recommend using a hydrocortisone cream, which can help soothe the itch. Always follow label directions, and, Bentley warns, “If symptoms increase, consult a physician.”
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