How to Avoid Insect and Mosquito Bites

Biting insects & mosquitoes can spread diseases such as Malaria, Yellow fever, Dengue fever, Japanese Encephalitis and West Nile Virus. There are a range of malaria tablets available to help treat and prevent Malaria but there are some simple, essential precautions that you can take to avoid getting insect and mosquito bites, which reduces the risk of you picking up a deadly disease.

  • KNOCK DOWN PRODUCTS: Use mosquito and insect killing or "knock down" products in the bedroom. Regular use of these products is necessary so that the product comes into contact with any new insects that enter the room.
  • SKIN PROTECTION: Apply insect repellent to all exposed areas of skin, avoiding eyes and mouth. We advise the use of DEET containing products, which has been widely used for over 50 years and has clearly been shown to be one of the most effective repellent products. The use of 50% DEET products is usually sufficient in normal conditions.  There are however many alternatives to DEET available which are becoming more and more popular.  One of the most popular repellents is Saltidin (Picaridin which is a key ingredient in Trek Sensitive and Lifesystems Expedition Sensitive.
  • MOSQUITO  NETS: Bed nets are essential when sleeping in high-risk areas, especially nets that have been treated with insecticide which kills insects & mosquitoes on contact. There are various size and shapes of nets available which ensures you are protected through the night. If you are travelling through many areas then portable, lightweight nets are available and if you are unsure about hanging points then consider a pop-up net.  
  • AIR CONDITIONING: If possible, it is best to stay in air-conditioned accommodation as this helps keep the room cool and reduce the number of active insects.
  • PLUG-IN REPELLENTS: Plug-in Mosquito and insect killers can help to reduce the risk as they release an insecticide vapour killing mosquitoes in the room.  They are very similar to Knockdown aerosols.  
  • WINDOW & DOOR SCREENS: Try to stay in accommodation that supplies window and door screens to keep flying insects out.
  • CLOTHING: Wear long sleeve shirts and long trousers as these cover most of the body.  Ensure any clothing you wear is loose fitting and not tight to the skin as mosquitoes may be able to bite through thin clothing.  Most DEET products are not suitable for application to clothing so there are specialist products available to help.   Lifesystems EX4 is brilliant for spraying clothes and will help to repel biting insects. Ideally, wear light coloured clothing during the day as these attract mosquitoes less than dark clothing.
  • AVOID AFTERSHAVE OR PERFUMES: These smells can attract mosquitoes, especially during the evenings.
  • AVOID FLOODED OR AREAS CLOSE TO WATER: Mosquitoes and other biting insects breed or hatch eggs around watered areas, which will increase the risk of being bitten.

Insect bites are generally small, red itchy bumps, it is important not to scratch them as they could become infected, try to keep the area clean. To reduce the swelling, anti-histamine creams or tablets can be used, this also helps to reduce itching. If your bite does look infected then it is important to visit a doctor as you may require antibiotics.

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of diseases such as Malaria, which include a high temperature, sweats and chills, muscle pain, vomiting, headaches and diarrhoea. Symptoms can take up to 15 days before they begin to show, so you may already be at home when symptoms begin. It is important to visit your doctor if you feel you have symptoms, even if it is several months or even a year after you have returned from your trip.


  • Insect repellents are available in various forms and concentrations. Many skin preparations are available, mostly containing diethyltoluamide (DEET).
  • DEET has been proven to be the most effective in preventing mosquito bites so it is the repellent of choice in areas with diseases such as malaria and dengue.
  • For those allergic to DEET, alternatives include Dimethyl Phthalate (contained in 'shoo') or Eucalyptus oil (contained in 'Mosiguard').
  • Aerosol and pump-spray products are available which are suitable for treating clothing - if using these on the skin it is best to spray liquid onto your hand and then rub onto exposed areas.
  • Liquid, creams, lotions and sticks are designed for skin application.
  • DEET within products is measured in concentration levels, for example, 50% DEET, the lower the concentration of DEET the less effective the repellent will be. Products that contain DEET should be used with caution when applying to clothes as it can damage some materials or fabrics. If you are applying DEET products to children, then it should be applied with adult supervision.
  • Products with a lower concentration are usually used on the skin (30 – 50%) and higher concentrations (100%) on clothes.


  • Clothes are the best protection - normally only use repellents on the remaining exposed areas of skin and shirt collars and cuffs and the ankle bottoms of trousers or slacks.
  • Never use repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • Don't apply to eyes and mouth, and apply sparingly around ears. When using sprays do not spray directly onto face; spray on hands first and then apply to face.
  • Do not allow young children to handle repellents - they may get them into their eyes. Apply to your own hands and to the child's skin. For children, use clothing as the main barrier and repellent only where necessary.
  • Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin. Heavy application is unnecessary.
  • After use, wash treated skin. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly.
  • If you suspect that you or your children are reacting to an insect repellent, discontinue use, wash treated skin and then contact your doctor.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.