25 SAFETY HACKS THAT ARE ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT
Avoiding Dangerous Bug Bites During International Travel
Disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks thrive in some parts of the world. To be safe, you'll need to employ such deterrents as insect repellent, bed netting, and protective clothing.
By Marijke Vroomen-Durning, RN
Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
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Mosquitoes and insects can be more than just a nuisance in many parts of the world. If you're making international travel plans, know that these insects can potentially cause serious, and sometimes even fatal, illnesses in countries where they thrive. Knowing how to best prevent yourself from being bitten is essential to the health and safety of any international traveler.
International Travel: Mosquitoes and Other Nuisances
The most precarious insect that international travelers need to be aware of is the mosquito. Mosquitoes can transmit serious diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and West Nile virus. Various medications can help prevent the spread of malaria, but they aren't always effective. You can drastically lessen your risk of contracting disease by taking every precaution possible to avoid a mosquito bite.
Ticks are also a worry if you travel to areas where they are present, as they carry the risk of spreading Lyme disease as well as other tick-borne diseases.
International Travel: The Best Ways to Prevent Insect Bites
Two simple steps can help to keep you bite-free while you're traveling in foreign lands:
- Choose the right clothing.Because mosquitoes mostly bite at dusk and after dark, William L. Sutker, MD, chief of infectious diseases at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Tex., advises that you wear long sleeves and long pants during that time. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention takes it one step further, recommending that you wear long sleeves, long pants, and a hat outdoors whenever possible. Mosquitoes carrying dengue fever and other diseases bite during the day, so you need to be protected from bites then, as well. Wearing long sleeves and pants will also help to prevent tick bites. Just be sure to tuck your pant legs into your socks and your shirt into your pants to deter a tick from getting under your clothing.
- Use the right insect repellent.An insect repellent can prevent mosquito and tick bites, but Dr. Sutker points out that it's important to confirm that the insect repellent you purchase uses DEET as its active ingredient (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). The recommended concentration of DEET is 30 to 50 percent, although 50 percent is considered to be most effective. To address concerns that DEET could be harmful to humans, the United States Environmental Protection Agency reviewed several studies on products that contain DEET and found that, when people follow the directions for safe application, DEET's benefits as an insect repellent outweigh its dangers. DEET is considered safe for children over the age of 2 months.
Mosquitoes: Sleeping With the Enemy
Since many insects, like mosquitoes, bite at night, you'll also need to take measures to protect yourself while you're sleeping. You may want to do this even if your room appears to be well screened and windows and doors remain tightly closed. One option is to spray your room with an insect repellent that is meant to kill or keep away flying insects; look for products that contain pyrethroid in this case.
For an added measure of protection, consider bringing along bed netting to create a screen between you and insects. The best types of nets are those that are pre-treated with insecticides, such as permethrin or deltamethrin. You can also purchase these insecticides yourself to spray on bed netting and clothing, but not directly onto your skin.
Dynamic Duo: Sunscreen and Insect Repellent
Of course, international travel often means fun in the sun. So, if you're going to be outdoors, you're also going to need to protect your skin from harmful rays. The good news is you can use both sunscreen and insect repellent without one affecting the other. You should, however, be sure to put on the sunscreen first, followed by the insect repellent. Neither of these will last all day, so to remain protected, reapply sunscreen several times a day, and be sure to reapply insect repellant before dusk.
Insect-related illnesses can have serious consequences. Fortunately, it takes only a few well-chosen products and their careful application to keep you safe from illnesses spread by insects, so stock up before you travel.
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