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Surviving mosquito season

An adult sprays bug spray on a child’s arm

June 7, 2024—Mosquito bites can be itchy, painful—and dangerous. They can spread diseases, such as West Nile Virus. The best defense is avoiding mosquitoes as much as possible. But if a few do get through, there are safe ways to ease the itch.

Prevent mosquito bites

These simple tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can help you protect yourself.

Cover up. Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts so that there is less exposed skin for mosquitoes to bite.

Use an EPA-registered insect repellent. The EPA registration means these products, which contain ingredients such as DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), have been tested and proven to make a person or area less attractive to mosquitoes. Be sure to read and follow the label instructions carefully, especially when using mosquito repellents on children.

Get rid of standing water, where mosquitoes breed. For instance, turn over or cover empty flowerpots, trash cans or other containers that hold water. Change the water in birdbaths once a week.

Try a yellow light. Consider replacing your outdoor lighting with yellow bug lights, which may attract fewer mosquitoes than regular lights.

Close the gaps. To keep mosquitoes out, check your home for torn window or door screens. Repair or replace as needed.

Ease the itch

It's probably impossible to avoid getting any mosquito bites. If you end up with a bite that bothers you, follow this advice from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and CDC:

  • Try not to scratch the mosquito bite—you could get an infection.
  • Clean the bite with soap and water.
  • Apply an ice pack to the bite for up to 10 minutes. This may help with swelling and pain.
  • To reduce itching, make a paste from baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the bite and wait 10 minutes before washing it off.
  • If the bite still itches, try an over-the-counter antihistamine lotion.

Most mosquito bites go away in a few days. But if the swelling increases or the area looks infected, call your doctor.

Watch out for ticks too

In many parts of the country, warmer weather brings out ticks as well. If one bites you, here's how to remove it correctly.

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