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What treatments work for preventing malaria?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

The best way to prevent malaria is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

There are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk of getting bitten. You should also take drugs to protect you from malaria. But no treatment can protect you completely.

If you get a fever and symptoms similar to the flu after visiting Asia, Africa, or South America, then you should see a doctor at once.

Key messages about preventing malaria

  • You can avoid mosquito bites by sleeping inside a mosquito net at night, wearing clothes that protect you from bites, and putting insect repellent on your skin.

  • Anti-malaria drugs can also help to protect you. You will need to start taking anti-malaria drugs before you travel.

  • You should see a doctor or nurse before travelling to a country where malaria is common. The type of drug you need depends on where you are going.

  • It is important to keep taking the anti-malaria drugs after you return from your trip, because a malaria parasite in your blood could still be growing.

  • Herbal remedies or homeopathic remedies are not recommended for preventing malaria. There's no reason why they should work, and no research showing they help people avoid the disease. [31]

  • If you're pregnant you should avoid travelling to places where there is malaria. You are more at risk of severe malaria and could have a miscarriage.

Which treatments work best?

We've looked at the best research and given a rating for each treatment according to how well it works. We've ranked treatments for adults, pregnant women, and children separately because the risks of each treatment are different depending how old you are and if you are pregnant.

  • Treatments to prevent malaria in adults (except for women who are pregnant)

  • Treatments to prevent malaria in children

  • Treatments to prevent malaria in pregnant women

The drugs you need when travelling to a country where malaria is common may change over time. This is because some types of malaria become resistant to some drugs. This means the drug no longer protects you against the disease. Even if you have been to a country before, you need to check which drug to take next time you go.

Treatments to prevent malaria in adults (except for women who are pregnant)

Treatments that are likely to workTreatments that work, but whose harms may outweigh benefitsTreatments that need further studyTreatments that are unlikely to work
Last Updated: June 07, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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