Insect protection – what helps?

We only notice when it’s too late: an insect has bitten us. They penetrate the skin with their trunks and pincers and release numbing substances in the process. After successful blood sampling, the insects chase away again.  In order to find their target – humans – insects use a very complex interplay of smell, warmth and moisture of the skin. They particularly like a body temperature of 36.5 to 37.9 degrees Celsius, which is what is usually found in humans. They also fly to the carbon dioxide in the air we breathe. People have always tried to prevent insects from biting them and therefore there is a large repertoire of mosquito repellents.

What really helps against insects?

Various measures are available for repelling insects, which we will present to you in more detail below:

  • Repellents
  • mechanical defense
  • ultrasonic devices
  • Clothing

Synthetic and natural repellents

So-called repellents help to keep insects away. They change the properties of the skin so that mosquitoes, horse flies,  ticks  and tsetse flies can no longer locate people. They act like a kind of camouflage cover. The repellents are available as a  roll-on stick, lotion or spray  . Active ingredients  such as Bayrepel® and DEET (diethyltoluamide) provide reliable protection for over four hours. These drugs from the pharmacy have proven to be effective in tests. However, they are not recommended for children under the age of two because skin irritation cannot be ruled out.

There are also products with natural active ingredients that can be applied to the skin  ,  such as essential oils from tea tree, citronella or Indian lemon balm. You should try them out individually to see if they actually work. But they are definitely suitable for cooling insect bites.

And as a natural preventative,  burning sage leaves  in a fireproof bowl has been proven to keep most mosquitoes at bay.

On the other hand, strongly smelling torches or tea lights cannot always be relied on. In complete contrast to chemical  “biocide vaporizers”.  However, these are only recommended to a limited extent, as they contain toxic insecticides such as allethrin or transfluthrin and can cause irritation in sensitive people and children.

Mechanical defense – fly screens & Co.

Mechanical defense measures are also a reliable form of prevention. In your own four walls, the bloodsuckers can be kept at a distance with simple means – with  fly screens or gauze  on doors and windows. You can find them relatively inexpensively at hardware stores and they are easy to install. mosquito net  over the bed is also a safe protection.

Even the  fly swatter  should not be underestimated in the battle of creatures. Even beforehand: If you smack a mosquito in the house in winter, you prevent many mosquito eggs from maturing in spring. Breeding sites  such as rain barrels and open water vessels should be emptied or at least covered.

ultrasonic devices

Ultrasonic devices are often advertised in hardware stores. But when Stiftung Warentest examined the devices, the bloodsuckers only hesitated ten seconds longer before they bite: After an average of 35 seconds instead of 25 seconds without ultrasound. In addition: people with good hearing also hear the high tone and are more annoyed than the insects.

clothing protection

Clothing can also help to keep mosquitoes away:   Mosquitoes don’t fly to light-colored clothing because they are adjusted to dark targets. Pants and shirt should also be wide-cut or made of  thicker fabric  , otherwise the suction tube will still reach through the textile and into the skin. And  don’t forget socks  , because feet and ankles are the most common targets.

Secure defense – a mix

Play it safe if you use a defensive combination outdoors. In addition to the right clothing, you should rub uncovered skin with a repellent and spray thin fabric with it. Light sources also attract mosquitoes. However, since they cannot see yellow light, a yellow lightbulb provides useful camouflage.

After a sting – what to do?

If you get a mosquito bite, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Since pathogens can penetrate the puncture wounds, you should  avoid scratching yourself if possible.
  2. If the sting has already  become infected  or is  very red,  it is treated with disinfectants. Ointments penetrate deeper into the inflamed area than solutions.
  3. In  the case of swelling  , poultices with a solution of acetic acid and clay have a pleasant effect, they have a tightening effect on the skin. Essential oils such as  tea tree oil , tiger balm cool and disinfect.
  4. Gels containing antihistamines  help  against  allergic reactions  . Over-the-counter creams and ointments with hydrocortisone have also proven effective. High doses of calcium also help  , preferably in the form of effervescent tablets.
  5. Anyone who feels itching and swelling in places other than the puncture site   , shows stomach or intestinal cramps or  palpitations  should see a doctor immediately, as this indicates an  insect venom allergy  . The doctor may prescribe an emergency kit, which usually includes an adrenaline shot and drinkable antihistamine and cortisone preparations, for people who are at risk.
  6. Also remember that you should have your  tetanus protection  refreshed after 10 years at the latest, as bacteria can penetrate the skin from a sting!

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