We quizzed an expert dermatologist to find out how best to avoid mosquito bites on holiday. It turns out the solution might just be staring us straight in the face…
When it comes to avoiding mosquito bites – or treating them once you’ve got them – there are lots of conflicting opinions. Some people swear by DEET-based repellents. Others won’t leave home without a natural citronella candle. And the rest of us can’t decide between the two, so we buy them both – just in case.
Consultant dermatologist and all-round skincare expert, Doctor Anjali Mahto, knows a thing or two about the topic. She reported in the Daily Mail that 20 per cent of people are more susceptible to mozzie bites thanks to their genetic make-up. And there are other factors, like how long ago you last exercised or had a shower, which – believe it or not – can make you more of a target, too.
But, genetics and bathing habits aside, there is one way that all of us can raise our game when it comes to avoiding mosquito bites on holiday, and it’s as simple as applying our bug spray correctly. See if you’re guilty of any of these common mistakes, then find out what Dr Mahto would prescribe…
The 5 Most Common Mosquito Repellent Mistakes And How To Avoid Them
1. You’re buying whatever’s on special offer
Buying an insect repellent isn’t a case of one-size fits all, so don’t grab whatever’s BOGOF in Sainsbury’s. ‘The active ingredients vary depending on which insect they are designed to repel,’ explains Dr Mahto. ‘Different types of insect will respond differently to the active ingredients, so always read the instructions to understand when, how, and against which insects they should be used.’
2. You’re putting it on before your sun cream
Put the Ambre Solaire down – for now. ‘Insect repellent should be put on after applying sun cream, having given it 5-10 minutes to dry. Make sure everything has dried before you put extra layers of clothing on, too, or it’ll just rub off. And stick to separate sun creams and insect repellents, rather than combined products – sun protection usually needs more frequent application than insect repellent does.’
3. You’re not reading the label
How many of us just slather the stuff on and hope for the best? If you want to avoid being bitten, read the instructions properly and don’t assume your new product is the same as the one you used last time – they’re all different in terms of when and how they need to be applied to be most effective.
4. You’re not actually sure what DEET is
Thankfully, Dr Mahto is. ‘Diethyltouamide, which produces an odour that’s unpleasant to mosquitoes, is probably the most effective chemical repellent available and has a good safety record. Research has shown that a repellent containing approximately 20% DEET will protect the wearer for about 5 hours.’ Just bear in mind that DEET reduces the effectiveness of suncream by 30-40%, so you’ll need to apply your sun protection more often. Plus, the guidelines for using DEET-based products for babies and children are different to adults, so you’ll need to do some research if you’re travelling with little ones.
5. You’re putting too much on
Apply your repellent all over areas of your skin that are exposed, but don’t make the mistake of over-applying. ‘You want to just cover all areas of exposed skin,’ explains Dr Mahto. ‘Applying it more heavily does not provide better or longer-lasting protection.’ And it goes without saying that you shouldn’t apply your cream or spray underneath clothing or to any areas of wounded or irritated skin.
Worried about mosquito bites and travel? Take a look Public Health England’s latest advice.