It’s that time of year again – the weather is warming, it’s humid out, especially if you’re in the Mid-Atlantic or North East like me and it’s about a month before we see the mosquitoes in full swing. If you’re concerned about your health, you’re probably spending a good amount of time outside soaking in the fresh air and sun and maybe even a campfire or two.
Unfortunately, if you’re like me, you’re in the 10-20% of people that get bit more than others. Check out the video below for a quick summary of the reasons some people get bit more than others and what you can do about it, plus some suggestions of my own.
According to researchers, 85% of the reason you get bit is genetic. The mosquitoes can literally smell it on you. In addition to genetics there are a few other variables that can impact your apparent tastiness to hungry mosquitoes.
People that produce and secrete more lactic acid from their sweat glands tend to attract more mosquitoes. Additionally, mosquitoes (especially those infected with malaria) seem to be most attracted to sweat that has been sitting on your skin for a day or two as opposed to fresh sweat.
As I’ve discussed before, you have trillions of bacteria on and inside of you at all times and no surprise here, it even influences how attractive you are to those little winged devils. If you happen to have more Staphylococcus or Variovorax chances are, you’ll be getting bit more. Interestingly if you have more Pseudomonas, Leptotrichia, Delftia, or Actinobacteria living on your skin, you’re more protected from getting bit.
According to the video above a study from 2004 also showed that people with Type O blood were twice as likely to have mosquitoes land on them compared to people with Type B. Lucky people with Type A blood were even less likely to have mosquitoes make a pit stop on them.
In addition to your skin, what’s coming out of your mouth could also be increasing your risk for mosquito bites. If you produce more CO2 upon exhalation, mosquitoes will smell this and will be attracted by it. As a result, larger people and pregnant women who naturally produce more CO2 while breathing will probably suffer the most.
And finally bad news for most backyard BBQers. Beer drinkers seem to get more mosquito bites which might be a result of them breathing more heavily as people tend to do while drinking or because of increased body warmth.
What To Do:
Experts recommend the common insect repellent DEET, but it comes with some risks, especially for pregnant women as DEET has been shown to cross the placenta.
As mentioned earlier, day-old sweat attracts more mosquitoes, especially ones infected with malaria so if you’re going to be spending time outdoors make sure to wash often. Avoid excessive use of antibacterial soaps as they can alter the kinds and amounts of bacteria on your skin making you more likely to have the types that make you susceptible to attracting mosquitoes.
It may seem obvious but wear protective clothing especially around areas that have a lot of blood supply and are warm. The ankles, forearms and your neck are particularly susceptible. Linen and light cotton fabrics should be enough to block out most intruders. If you are pregnant, this is especially important. Additionally, as someone who gets bit often, I find that staying near citronella candles or beebalm plants (also known as horsemint) as well as planting a lot of marigolds in the backyard can help keep the mosquitoes at bay so you can actually enjoy your time outside.
Do you have any other tips or tricks to keep the bites away? Leave it in the comments below.