Bites, insect - Preventing insect bites
NHS Choices Medical Reference
There are a number of precautions that you can take to avoid being bitten by insects. It is particularly important to follow this advice if you have had a bad reaction to an insect bite in the past.
Some of the precautions that you can take to minimise your risk of being bitten by an insect are listed below.
- Cover exposed skin. If you are outside at a time of day when insects are particularly active, such as sunrise or sunset, cover your skin by wearing long sleeves and trousers.
- Wear shoes when outdoors.
- Apply insect repellent. This should be applied to exposed areas of skin. Repellents that contain diethyltoluamide (DEET) are considered to be the most effective.
- Avoid using products with strong perfumes. Do not use strong-smelling products, such as soaps, shampoos and deodorants, because they can attract insects.
- Avoid flowering plants, outdoor areas where food is served, rubbish and compost areas.
- Remove and destroy insect nests. If a nest is in or near your house, arrange to have it removed (see the Directgov website's section on pest control services for information about how your local council can help).
- Avoid flea infestations. If you have pets, they should be regularly treated for fleas.
- Avoid camping near water, such as ponds and swamps, because mosquitoes and horseflies are commonly found near water.
Avoid tick-infested areas where possible. Local health departments and parks should be able to give you information about tick-infested areas. If you cannot avoid a tick-infested area, walk in the centre of paths to avoid contact with vegetation.
Seek medical advice before travelling to a tropical area where there is a risk of catching malaria (a condition that causes a high temperature and can be fatal). You may need to take antimalarial tablets to avoid becoming infected. See the Health A-Z page about preventing malaria for more information.
When you reach your destination, make sure that your accommodation has insect-proof screen doors and windows that close properly. Sleeping under a mosquito net and spraying rooms with insecticide will also help stop you being bitten.