There are about 3000 species of mosquitoes in the world. In South-east Asia, India alone accounts for about 80% of all malaria cases. According to the WHO, malaria is a completely avoidable and treatable disease, but preventive strategies must be put in place in order to battle this dreaded illness. Protecting yourself from mosquito bites guards you from mosquito-borne illnesses like encephalitis, yellow fever, dengue and malaria. With World Malaria Day around the corner, here are some simple ways to help you protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Use a mosquito repellent, a substance that prevent mosquitoes from approaching/settling in your surrounding area. Chemical mosquito repellents found in liquid electric machines, mosquito coils and mats contains the chemical called DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide). Research has shown that apart from leaving a bad odour, DEET also damages brain cells, cause behavioral changes and lead to harmful side-effects on interaction with certain medications.
Here are some natural alternatives:
Neem Oil: Studies conducted at the US National Research Council—confirmed by scientists at the National Institute of Malaria Research—indicate that neem oil is more effective than DEET.
Lavender Oil: A commonly used mosquito repellent that smells great, lavender oil is best used when diluted in almond or coconut oil.
Organic Soy Oil: According to research quoted in The New England Journal of Medicine, soybean oil is as effective as DEET for repelling mosquitoes. Cheap, easily available and a great body moisturizer, soy oil works as an excellent mosquito repellent.
Applying Natural Mosquito Repellents
1) Mix 50 drops of lavender and neem together into a solution.
2) Add 1 ml of this solution into 30 ml of unscented coconut or almond oil, or moisturizer.
3) Apply a little on your skin before you leave home. You can also mix 30 drops of these essential oils into organic soy oil for extra protection.
Note: Always conduct a 24-hour skin test to check for any skin sensitivity to oils.
Avoid using Flowery Perfumes
The fragrant smells in lotions, soaps and shampoos attract mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes generally feed on flower nectar when they are not breeding.
Drain: Drain your surroundings of any stagnant water which may serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. This includes garbage bins, tyres and gutters.
Defend: Instead of chemical DEET-based repellents, go the unconventional way with the natural mosquito repellents mentioned above.
Dress: Dress in light coloured loose clothes—shirts with long sleeves, long pants and socks.
More than Just Malaria
According to the WHO, mosquitoes cause at least 50 million cases of dengue fever each year globally. It is also estimated that Southeast Asia is prone to the highest risk. There is currently no vaccination or preventive measure for dengue fever—other than avoiding mosquito bites.
Prevention is the best defense against mosquitoes. We hope these tips help you in keeping your home free from mosquitoes. For tips on how you can prevent malaria, read our post on Our Top 5 Malaria Prevention Tips .