Mosquito Bite Avoidance - Fit for Travel (2023)

  • Introduction
  • Risks of mosquito bites
  • Avoiding mosquito bites
  • Treating mosquito bites
  • Resources


Mosquito bites are a common problem during travel, especially to warmer countries. The measures described on this page will help you avoid being bitten and know how to treat bites if they happen.

Risks of Mosquito Bites

Mosquitoes bite humans to feed on your blood. During this process, they can infect you with diseases such as:

  • malaria
  • dengue fever
  • yellow fever

When mosquitoes bite they cause a small itchy red bump on your skin. Some people develop an allergic skin reaction to the bites, and the bumps become large. Scratching the bites can lead to infections developing in the skin.

Different types of mosquito feed at different times of the day both indoors and outdoors. Therefore you should take precautions to avoid being bitten at all times of day and night during travel.

Avoiding Mosquito Bites

Before you travel consider how you will protect yourself from mosquito bites during your trip. This involves:

  • using good quality insect repellents
  • wearing the right clothing to protect your skin from bites
  • using a mosquito net
  • reducing the number of mosquitos in and around your accommodation

You should also be aware of how to treat bites if they occur.

(Video) How To Avoid Mosquito Bites

Insect Repellents

Insect repellents do not kill mosquitoes, but should stop them landing on and biting your skin. They work against different types of insect bites.

In general, insect repellents should be:

  • applied to all areas of exposed skin not covered by clothing
  • applied after sunscreen; be aware that the SPF protection of your sunscreen may be reduced
  • reapplied regularly, particularly if you notice mosquitoes flying close to your skin
  • reapplied after swimming, washing or excessive sweating
  • applied carefully around the face and eyes. Be careful not to breathe in the repellent – if using a spray, spray it onto your hands and then rub onto your face
  • kept away from synthetic clothes or plastics as it may damage them, for example credit cards, phones, watches or glasses

Different brands of insect repellent are available, and come in different strengths (concentrations). As a rule, the higher the strength, the longer the repellent should protect you from being bitten before you need to reapply it. When applied to the skin properly they should provide several hours of protection. Always check the exact instructions on the bottle for how often to apply.

Effective repellents should contain one of the following active ingredients:

  • DEET (diethyltoluamide)
    • this is the most effective insect repellent
    • a concentration between 20 and 50% should be used
    • use 50% in areas where there is malaria
    • can be used on babies over 2 months old, and pregnant women
    • 100% DEET should never be used on skin but can be sprayed onto clothing for extra protection
  • Icaradin (Picardin)
    • at least 20% concentration should be used to protect against mosquito-borne infections
  • Lemon Eucalyptus (PMD)
    • needs to be at least 30% concentration to be effective
    • needs to be reapplied more frequently than 30% DEET
  • IR3535
    • less effective than DEET or Icaridin at preventing bites from the type of mosquitos that carry malaria
    • should not be used in countries where malaria is present

You should always read and carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the insect repellent that you purchase.

Oil of Citronella products only work for a very short time and cannot be relied upon to prevent mosquito and insect bites. Other methods which do not work and should not be relied upon are:

  • applying tea tree oil to your skin
  • taking Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B12 tablets
  • eating garlic or yeast extracts
  • using bath oils and skin softeners
  • drinking alcohol
  • using electronic buzzers or mobile phone apps that emit high frequency sound waves


Clothing stops mosquitoes reaching your skin and biting. Mosquitoes cannot bite through loose clothing but can if your clothing is tight. In hot climates, your clothing can be thin, as long as it is loose. Any areas of skin not covered by clothing should have insect repellent applied.

(Video) How to Become Immune to Mosquito Bites

Consider wearing loose fitting clothing with:

  • a high neckline
  • long sleeves
  • long trouser legs or long skirt or dress
  • socks

For added protection, clothing can be treated (by washing or spraying) with insecticides such as Permethrin which kill insects when they land on the fabric.

  • Insecticide kits and spray are available to buy from outdoor/travel suppliers; the manufacturer's instructions should be followed.
  • Clothes already pre-treated with insecticides can be bought.
  • Frequent washing of clothes means the insecticide will stop working as well.

Mosquito Nets

A mosquito net creates a barrier, preventing mosquitoes and other insects being able to reach your skin when you are sleeping or resting. The barrier is stronger if the net has also been treated (impregnated) with insecticide.

Nets can be retreated; the manufacturer's instructions should be followed when washing or retreating bed nets with insecticides.

There are many different styles and shapes of mosquito net available, that can be used indoors and outdoors. It is important to choose a net that best suits your type of travel.

How to use a Mosquito Net

Checks for any holes in the net before using it. If a hole is apparent, then this can be mended using for example a needle and thread.

You should tuck the net under your mattress or ground sheet during the night, and either collapse it down, or keep it tucked up during the day to stop insects flying under and into the net.

(Video) How to Prevent Mosquito Bites || REI

The net should allow enough space so that your skin does not rest directly against it, because mosquitoes may still bite through it. This opportunity is reduced if your net has been treated with insecticide.

Reducing Mosquitoes in and around your accommodation

You can reduce the chance of mosquitoes entering your accommodation by using:

  • air conditioning
    • insects are unlikely to enter rooms where air conditioning is used properly and constantly
    • you do not need a mosquito net if you use the air conditioning
    • windows and doors must be kept closed for the air conditioning to work
  • mosquito screens
    • mesh screens on windows and doors should be checked for holes that could let insects fly through, and holes repaired
    • screens should be kept closed at all times to avoid insects coming into the room
    • an insecticide spray or plug-in should also be used
  • insecticide (Pyrethroid) products
    • ‘plug-in’ products use electricity to slowly release insecticide from a liquid or tablet into your room
    • they do not provide enough protection from bites alone, but can be used alongside mosquito nets and/or mosquito screens
    • they will not work with an unreliable electricity supply

Insect repelling candles, methylated burners, cones and coils can be used when there is no electricity, but should NOT be used indoors.

Reducing mosquitoes outside your accommodation

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. Even a small amount of water lying in a flower pot, a bucket or in tree hole is enough. If there are no water sources, then mosquitoes cannot breed.

  • Try to make sure there is no stagnant water lying around outside your accommodation to reduce the opportunity for mosquitoes to breed.

In tropical areas where mosquitoes are a problem, breeding sites are often sprayed with insecticide.

Treating Mosquito Bites

Scratching an itchy bite can damage the skin and may cause the bite to become infected. Reducing the itching can help to prevent this. Putting a cold cloth over the bite can help soothe the itch.

If you are aware that your skin reacts badly to bites, consider purchasing a bite relief cream or antihistamine tablets before you travel.

(Video) Dealing with Mosquito Bites | 10 Tips to Protect Yourself While Traveling

  • ‘Bite relief’ creams and ointments can be bought in pharmacies and supermarkets. They contain steroids (such as hydrocortisone 1%) or antihistamines and reduce the redness and itch when rubbed onto bites.
  • The itch from bites is reduced by taking a daily antihistamine tablet. You must discuss the suitability of taking these with your pharmacist, doctor or travel health advisor.


Further information on protecting yourself against insect bites is available on the Bug Off website

Online Suppliers

The products mentioned on this page are available to purchase in some high street stores and through various online suppliers such as those mentioned below. Please note this list is not exhaustive:

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(Video) Mosquitos in Brazil: How to Avoid Mosquito Bites While Traveling


How can I be less attractive to mosquitoes? ›

Basically, to avoid being a mosquito-target you should stay as scent-free as possible, wear light clothes, avoid bogs and use an effective repellent (such as those containing DEET or icaridin).

How do you stop mosquitoes from flying around you? ›

Here's what we learned.
  1. Install Bug-Proof Barriers. Gangloff-Kaufmann advises using fine mesh screens in all open windows and doors. ...
  2. Eliminate Standing Water. ...
  3. Keep Your Yard Neat. ...
  4. Use Fans, Even Outdoors. ...
  5. Dress Appropriately. ...
  6. Use an Effective Mosquito Repellent. ...
  7. The Lowdown on Insect Repellents.
16 May 2022

Do anti mosquito bands work? ›

Wristbands are marketed as safe mosquito repellents because you don't have to rub or spray anything on your skin. However, a test by Consumer Reports found mosquito repellent wristbands are ineffective.

What repels mosquitoes fast? ›

10 Natural Ingredients That Repel Mosquitoes
  • Lemon eucalyptus oil.
  • Lavender.
  • Cinnamon oil.
  • Thyme oil.
  • Greek catmint oil.
  • Soybean oil.
  • Citronella.
  • Tea tree oil.

What tablets can I take to prevent mosquito bites? ›

Many dermatologists now recommend that the skin can be made much less attractive to biting insects by taking Vitamin B supplements whilst at risk. So, we recommend that Vitamin B complex, 2 tablets twice a day, or Vitamin B-1, 100 mg daily, is a good way of helping to reduce the risk of being bitten.

What type of person attracts mosquitoes? ›

There's research showing that people with Type O blood are more likely to get bites from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (a common mosquito in the U.S.). And a recent study showed people with Type B blood attract Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes.

What scent do mosquitoes not like? ›

Certain Natural Scents

Mosquitoes are turned off by several natural scents: cinnamon, peppermint, cedar, citronella, lemongrass, patchouli, catnip, lavender, and more. Find a favorite, and use it when you want to spend time outside.

What color are mosquitoes not attracted to? ›

The findings suggest wearing colors that are less attractive to mosquitoes could help people avoid getting bitten. “Mosquitoes were not attracted to blue, green, purple, and white,” Jeff Riffell, a study co-author, told McClatchy News in a Feb. 7 email.

What is the most effective mosquito bracelet? ›

If you're looking for mosquito-repellent bracelets that come in a variety of colors and are DEET-free, the Cliganic 10 Pack Mosquito Repellent Bracelets are the top choice.

How long do mosquito repellent bands last? ›

LONG LASTING – Each mosquito repellent bracelet is individually wrapped in a resealable bag, keeping it fresh and increasing its lifespan. You'll receive over 250 hours of protection with each band!

How long do mosquito guard bands last? ›

A: The bracelets last 18 months from time of purchase if maintained In individually sealed pa…

How do I get rid of mosquitoes in minutes? ›

  1. #1: Eliminate standing water. Stagnant water attracts mosquitoes. ...
  2. #2: Candles, incense and essential oils. Candles and oils are not only refreshing but also excellent mosquito repellents. ...
  3. #3: Pot the right plant. ...
  4. #4: Lemon and clove. ...
  5. #5: Garlic spray. ...
  6. #6: Eucalyptus oil. ...
  7. #7: Mosquito net. ...
  8. #8: Camphor.
12 Aug 2021

How do I stop getting bitten? ›

Basic precautions to prevent insect bites and stings

wear shoes when outdoors. apply insect repellent to exposed skin – repellents that contain 50% DEET (diethyltoluamide) are most effective. avoid using products with strong perfumes, such as soaps, shampoos and deodorants – these can attract insects.

Why do some people not get bitten by mosquitoes? ›

Causes could include genetics, certain bacteria on the skin, or a combination of both. Body odor itself is determined by genetics. If you're related to someone who is often bitten by mosquitoes, you may be more susceptible too.

Why do mosquitoes fly towards me? ›

Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide humans and other animals emit. They also use their receptors and vision to pick up on other cues like body heat, perspiration and skin odor to find a potential host.

What are 3 things that attract mosquitoes? ›

  • Blood, Sweat, and Beers. Seriously. ...
  • Clothing Color. ...
  • Lotions, Perfumes, and Colognes. ...
  • Standing Water. ...
  • Tall Grass and Vegetation.
22 Apr 2020

Are mosquitoes afraid of perfume? ›

That's why it doesn't work when you're trying to mask B.O. (something mosquitoes like) with perfume or cologne (something mosquitoes love). Both types of smells will attract the pests to you, and perfume can actually make that draw worse.

Does deodorant repel mosquitoes? ›

Most deodorants have scents or perfumes added to them, and many of these also attract mosquitoes. Unscented deodorant will be more effective at keeping them away, and some recent studies have shown that the deodorant compound isopropyl tetradecanoate reduces the number of mosquito attacks.

Does Listerine keep mosquitoes away? ›

Can Listerine mouthwash be used in place of bug spray to repel mosquitoes? No, you cannot use Listerine in the place of a bug spray. According to Dr. Karlan Robinson, it does repel mosquitoes, but those effects don't last very long.

Is it better to wear light or dark clothes to avoid mosquitoes? ›

Answer: A: Yes, sir, mosquitoes are more attracted to people in dark clothing than in light-colored clothing. 'Skeeters use sight, smell, and heat to find a blood meal, and those people that study mosquitoes agree that the bugs see dark objects more easily than light objects.

Can mosquitoes bite through clothes? ›

Yes, unfortunately, mosquitoes can bite through clothes. So, how can mosquitoes bite through clothes? While they'd rather tear directly into your skin, mosquitoes have a half-dozen long, sharp mouthparts that can easily pierce thin or loosely knit materials.

Do mosquitoes hate black? ›

Mosquitoes are attracted to black, as well as dark and bright colors. Since black is the darkest “color,” this shade will attract flying insects. However, other dark and bright tones will also attract mosquitoes.

How do you make your blood type unattractive to mosquitoes? ›

Disgust them with DEET

DEET, or diethyltoluamide, was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 to protect soldiers travelling to insect-infested areas. Mosquitoes and midges exposed to it are unable to locate people or animals because they cannot detect the chemicals we breathe out.

Are mosquitoes attracted to certain people? ›

If you have always suspected that you might just be a mosquito magnet, scientists now have evidence for you: Mosquitoes indeed are attracted to certain humans more than others, according to a new study.

Are mosquito magnets worth it? ›

Studies have shown that most mosquito magnets are no more effective than a bucket of insecticide, and that mosquitos are actually clever enough to distinguish between the CO2 put out by a living creature, versus that which comes from a machine.

How long do the citronella bracelets last? ›

about the product

Each Bugables Coil Reusable Mosquito Repellent Wristband is infused with natural repellent oils to help repel mosquitoes for up to 7 days. The bands are light, colorful, easy-to-wear, waterproof and can be worn on wrists or ankles.

Are mosquito bracelets reusable? ›

PIC Bugables Citronella Scented Coil Wristbands, Reusable and Resealable, One Size Fits All (Pack of 25) Amazon's Choice highlights highly rated, well-priced products available to ship immediately.

Do ultrasonic mosquito bracelets work? ›

They don't work. More accurately, there's no scientific evidence to support the claims that the ultrasonic technology employed in mosquito-repelling devices actually keeps mosquitoes away. In fact, the opposite is true. Many studies disprove the idea that ultrasonic technology repels mosquitoes.

Is it safe to use mosquito repellent daily? ›

Generally, repellent with DEET should not be applied more than once a day. DEET can put on exposed skin, as well as clothing, socks, and shoes. But don't use it on your child's face, under clothing, on cuts or irritated skin, or on the hands of young children.

Does mesh keep mosquitoes out? ›

A double layer of fine mesh window screen is necessary to keep mosquitoes out.

Does citronella deter mosquitoes? ›

Citronella oil is repellent to mosquitoes to a degree, but the amount being put out by a candle isn't going to be very effective,” Eric Hoffer, president of Hoffer Pest, told TODAY Home. “In most cases, a citronella candle is only going to contain a 5% concentration of citronella or less."

Why do I get bitten so much on holiday? ›

Mosquitoes are the most common type of pest that travellers encounter whilst on holiday. Mosquitoes thrive in the heat, so it's likely you'll encounter them if you're going anywhere warm.At best, mosquito bites can be itchy and a little bit sore.

How do you keep bugs from biting you at the beach? ›

Watch where you set up at the beach! While we don't usually associate mosquitoes with warm sands and waves, if there's any standing water or slow streams at the beach, then mosquitoes will probably be there too. Stay away from these spots and don't be afraid to move. Use mosquito repellent as necessary.

How do I stop being bitten? ›

Basic precautions to prevent insect bites and stings

wear shoes when outdoors. apply insect repellent to exposed skin – repellents that contain 50% DEET (diethyltoluamide) are most effective. avoid using products with strong perfumes, such as soaps, shampoos and deodorants – these can attract insects.

Do Antihistamines stop mosquito bites? ›

With antihistamines, you should be able to treat most mosquito bite reactions at home. Ice can also help to reduce local swelling, if applied shortly after being bitten. To prevent infections, try not to scratch itchy bites.

Does Skin So Soft repel mosquitoes? ›

“While we know that many consumers have turned to Skin So Soft Bath Oil, the product is actually not intended to repel mosquitoes or sold for that purpose, and is not approved by the EPA as a repellent,” Avon told Consumer Reports.

What repels bugs from biting you? ›

Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. EPA's helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs.

What deters bugs from biting you? ›

To help prevent bug bites, dermatologists recommend the following tips: Use insect repellent. To protect against mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs, use insect repellent that contains 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Always follow the instructions on the repellent and reapply as directed.

How many times will one mosquito bite you? ›

There is no limit to the number of mosquito bites one of the insects can inflict. A female mosquito will continue to bite and feed on blood until she is full. After they have consumed enough blood, the mosquito will rest for a couple of days (usually between two to three days) before laying her eggs.

What fabric is mosquito proof? ›

To avoid getting mosquito bites when spending time outside, make sure to wear clothes made of denim, wool, velvet, and nylon ripstop. Polyester, gingham, and thicker cotton material or cotton blends may offer some protection, but don't be surprised if you still get bites with these materials.

What color clothes are mosquitoes attracted to? ›

Yes, color may attract mosquitoes. Dark-colored clothing, such as black, navy, blue or red – when combined with movement and breath – make it easier for these insects to find you.


1. Prevent Mosquito Bites
(American Academy of Pediatrics)
2. When Tested See Which Repellents Keep Mosquitoes Away Best?
(Inside Edition)
3. Why mosquitoes bite some people more than others | Did You Know?
(ABC News In-depth)
4. 5 Tips to Prevent Mosquito Bites
5. Atwater Carey Insect Shield Nets - Outdoor Essential for Mosquito Bite Prevention
(Atwater Carey Outdoor Essentials - Insect Shield Permethrin Nets)
6. The loathsome, lethal mosquito - Rose Eveleth
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