Some diseases spread by insect bites can be very serious, such as malaria and yellow fever. For some of these diseases, avoiding insect bites is the only way to prevent infection. Insect bites can also cause serious skin reactions.1,2
Mosquitoes and other flies spread many diseases, including malaria, yellow fever, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, sleeping sickness, river blindness, leishmaniasis and the Zika virus.2
The following measures should be used both day and night to avoid mosquito and other fly bites:1,2
DEET (diethylmetatoluamide)-based repellents are the most effective, especially against mosquitoes, and have been used for over 50 years.1,2 Liquids and creams for the skin are available, as are sprays for clothes.
Insect repellents should be applied sparingly, not heavily, after sunscreen, should not be used on lips, eyes, cuts, wounds or irritated skin, and should be washed off when no longer needed. Always use insect repellent in line with the manufacturer's instructions and if in doubt, seek advice from a pharmacist. If you think you have had a reaction to the repellent, wash the skin immediately and seek medical attention.1,2
Methods that are not recommended for repelling insects include bath oil, citronella oil-based repellents, geranium oil, garlic oil, vitamins B12 and B1, yeast extract, electronic or ultrasonic buzzer devices and tea tree oil.2
Use creams and antihistamines to help reduce swelling and itching, keep bites clean and dry, and use antiseptics and dressings to prevent infection.
You should always remove ticks as soon as possible, ideally with tweezers hooked around the mouthparts under the tick's body. The body of the tick should not be squeezed.
Make sure you contact your GP or travel health practitioner in plenty of time before you travel to discuss the ways you can help to keep yourself healthy whilst away. You should try and contact them at least 4–6 weeks before your trip.
After your trip, you should contact your GP if you develop a fever or notice any other unusual symptoms.
Date of preparation: January 2019