Tis the season to brush up on your mosquito safety and prevention. Mosquito season is here, and if you’re a Southern California resident like me, we’re gearing up for what’s projected to be one of the worst mosquito seasons following the heavy rains that we had at the start of the year. There’s nothing worse than being covered in itchy mosquito bites. But did you know that mosquito bites can also cause severe illness and spread disease? News outlets have reported cases of Malaria and West Nile virus in the United States, so now more than ever it is important for anyone, including individuals with kidney failure, to stay informed and take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites and reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases. Kidney failure can lead to a weakened immune system which increases the risk of becoming seriously ill from viruses spread by mosquitoes. I’m not taking any chances.
Mosquitoes love to bite me year-round, but as someone who enjoys being outside during the summer, I make sure to take extra precautions so that I can still enjoy the activities I love while protecting against mosquitoes. Here are some of my essential tips and tricks that could help protect you and your loved ones from mosquitoes this season:
- Use mosquito repellents: Apply an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil to exposed skin and clothing. Follow the instructions on the product for best results and reapply insect repellent as directed. If you are also using sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first and mosquito repellent second. Outdoor fuel-powered or rechargeable repellents such as Thermacell, are also great options that fight off mosquitoes in your outdoor spaces.
- Wear a bug repellent bracelet or sticker: Not keen on spraying yourself with mosquito repellent? A bug repellent bracelet or sticker might be a better option for you! The most common types of bracelets use a combination of oils such as citronella, lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint to keep mosquitoes away. They don’t contain any chemicals like DEET.
- Wear protective clothing: Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks to minimize exposed skin. Additionally, choose light-colored clothing, as mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors.
- Avoid peak mosquito activity times: Mosquitoes are most active at sunrise and sunset when the temperatures aren’t as high, so try to stay indoors during those times. If you plan to be outside during these peak hours, take extra precautions to protect yourself. Pay extra attention to your feet and ankles as these pesky biters love the smell of our feet!
- Eliminate standing water indoors and outdoors: Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so remove any sources of stagnant water around your home, such as empty containers, flowerpots, or bird baths.
- Install screens: Ensure windows and doors have screens without any holes or tears to keep mosquitoes from entering your living spaces.
- Use mosquito nets: When sleeping or spending time outdoors in areas with high mosquito populations, use mosquito nets around your bed or as a protective cover for outdoor seating areas or camping.
- Avoid scented products: Mosquitoes are attracted to strong scents, so avoid using scented soaps, lotions, or perfumes that can attract them.
- Consider mosquito-repellent plants: If you have a green thumb this tip is for you! Some plants, such as citronella, lemon grass, lavender, and basil, are natural mosquito repellents. Consider planting them in your garden, in pots on your patio or using their essential oils to create a mosquito-free environment.
- Do your research before you travel: Pack insect repellent and research what steps you need to take to protect yourself from bug bites. The CDC Travelers’ Health website is a great resource that includes destination specific information on what vaccines or medicines you may need and what diseases or health risks are a concern at your destination.
Isela King is the Administrative Coordinator at Renal Support Network. She was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy in 2015 when she was a sophomore in High School. This is the same year that she began volunteering at RSN’s Renal Teen Prom! She received her MPH from the Keck School of Medicine and hopes to use her degree to continue to serve her peers in the kidney community.
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