It’s summer in South Louisiana, which means we’re all fair prey for a common pest in this area: mosquitoes. Do you find that you’re the person who gets tons of bites, while your friend standing next to you escapes with just 1 or 2? It’s not all in your head: research has shown that mosquitoes do favor certain people based on genetic factors.
It’s a complicated issue to sort out, since there are over 400 compounds that have to be studied to find which ones are most attractive to mosquitoes, and every mosquito species is going to be attracted to different compounds. Below are some of the factors that have been found thus far to make you more likely to be a mosquito magnet:
1. Increased metabolic rate, or Carbon Dioxide output, which is usually associated with these groups or activities:
a. Pregnant women
b. Overweight or obese individuals
c. Drinking alcohol
2. Increased steroids or cholesterol on skin
3. Excess amounts of certain acids, like uric acid
4. Wearing dark colors
5. Blood Type O
Not Just a Bite
We’ve all heard of West Nile virus, and chances are it’s not going away anytime soon. Mosquitoes are a carrier of diseases like West Nile and yellow fever, malaria, dengue fever, and more. It’s important to keep these risks in mind and make protection a priority when you’re going to be exposed.
Ways to Prevent Mosquito Bites
The best way to prevent being bitten by a mosquito is to wear insect repellant. DEET is the most widely used chemical based repellant; other chemicals that are effective and approved for use are Picaridin, IR3535, and metofluthrin.
If the idea of a chemical based repellant makes you uncomfortable, oil of lemon eucalyptus is a natural alternative, although protection is lessened and you have to apply more often. There are also lifestyle choices you can make to prevent bites: stay inside when it’s especially humid outside, keep your doors and windows closed, use fans and air conditioning, and make sure to eliminate sources of standing water in and around your house (vases of flowers, pools, etc.) Cover your skin with clothing when you are outside to expose less surface area.
Should You See a Doctor for mosquito bites?
If you’ve been bitten by a mosquito and are experiencing a serious reaction or having symptoms like fever with your bite, make an appointment to see your provider. Although everyone reacts differently to a bite, your doctor can evaluate you to make sure there’s nothing more serious going on.