How to stop yourself being bitten by mosquitoes on holiday

Don't wear black and spray repellent on your door

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They are the one downside of a lovely warm summer – pesky biting insects.

So what do you need to look out for? How can you avoid being bitten and what should you do if you are?

See also: When is Flying Ant Day 2017?

See also: Tourist has both legs amputated after spider bite

What is cellulitis?

"This is a painful, bacterial skin infection caused by insect bites," says Howard Carter, Bite Prevention Expert.

"In 19 out of 20 cases, the infection will resolve with antibiotics within seven to 10 days. But one in 20 develops complications, such as abscesses. In August 2012, 32,000 people went to A&E with bites and 2% were hospitalised with cellulitis."

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If you spot a tick, gently remove it with tweezers

Do I only need to worry about ticks biting my dog?

Ticks are blood-sucking creatures that live in woodland, pasture, moorland, parks and gardens. They don't hurt, so you may not know you're carrying one until you undress.

If you spot a tick (a tiny spider-like creature), try to remove it carefully, using pointed tweezers. Gently apply pressure and pull steadily upwards, without twisting. Don't crush the tick. If bitten you may see a bullseye shaped rash three to 30 days later.

Other symptoms include headaches, joint and muscle pain, and a stiff neck. Some bites can cause the bacterial infection Lyme disease. If this isn't caught early, it can cause problems such as meningitis, heart failure and arthritis.

What do I do if stung by a wasp or bee?

Scrape the sting away with your fingernail and apply an ice pack to reduce swelling. Howard recommends Zap Ease (£5.95 from Holland & Barrett), a device you click around the bite area to localise poison and inhibit histamine which causes the itch. This is not suitable for anyone with a pacemaker or children under two.

Credits: GETTY

Use an ice pack to reduce swelling caused by a bee or wasp sting

Can you get malaria here?

There are lots of different kinds of mosquitos in the UK but they don't usually carry malaria or the Zika virus. But you can pick up malaria abroad. There were 1,400 cases of malaria, with six deaths, reported in Britain in 2015 related to travel.

Howard says: "UK travellers top the European league table for malaria, as they don't properly protect themselves."

Public health experts warn malaria and dengue fever could be here in decades as climate change will make it easier for malaria mosquitos to become widespread.

How do I know if I need to protect against malaria?

Follow the ABCD approach:

  • Awareness of risk: The Fit for Travel website has details of the danger of malaria in specific countries.
  • Bite prevention: Use insect repellent, covering your arms and legs, and using an insecticide-treated mosquito net.
  • Check if you need prevention tablets: If so, stick to the right dose and finish the course.
  • Diagnosis: Seek medical advice if you develop symptoms (fever, headaches, nausea, aching muscles etc), for up to a year after your return.

Can I still get malaria if I take anti-malarials?

"Yes, I did. That is why bite prevention is vital," says Howard, who developed Incognito mosquito repellent which is 100% DEET-free (lessmosquito.com).

Credits: AFP

There have plenty of things you can do to stop mosquitos bugging you on your holiday

How to avoid being bitten on holiday

  • Dusk and dawn are peak times for mosquitos, so don't sit out then.
  • Mosquitos will bite through fabric, even thick jeans, so apply insect repellent before dressing. To be extra safe, apply a protective solution of Java citronella or incognito spray to your clothing. Java citronella is at least twice as effective as ordinary citronella, as insects have not built up resistance to it.
  • Don't wear black, blue or green. Studies show they will attract mosquitos, as do floral patterns. Clothing should ideally be white or light coloured.
  • Don't burn candles as this invites insects in. Burn Java citronella oil in an oil burner or citronella incense sticks instead.
  • Spray repellent on and around your door before going inside as mosquitos often lie in wait on the outside of doors and windows. This helps to keep them out.
  • Wrap laundry up in plastic bags and keep all luggage closed.
  • Avoid all fragrances. Some, such as lavender, attract insects. Be aware most toiletries, sunscreens and fabric softeners contain scent.
  • Exfoliating every two or three days removes insect-attracting bacteria from the pores of your skin.
  • Be vigilant when sitting by water or walking in woodland/long grass. Horseflies and mosquitos are attracted by water, so if you're near any make sure your arms and legs are well-covered. Ticks love long grass and woodland so don't wear shorts.
  • Avoid waving your arms around at wasps: This is likely to make them cross, and increase your chances of being stung.
  • If there are wasps around, try to move away from them slowly and calmly.
  • Insects are attracted to bright colour – so make sure your picnic blanket is a neutral shade.

Reactions to bites

-A localised reaction: In most cases, a sting from a bee or wasp will result in some pain and swelling.

-Mild systemic (whole body) reaction: You're likely to have hives and swelling in other parts of your body that aren't near the sting.

This can be a sign you may be at risk of a stronger reaction to stings in the future.

-Anaphylactic or severe reaction: If you are allergic to insect stings, you may have a very severe and potentially fatal reaction. Make sure you always have your adrenalin (epinephrine) pen with you. If stung, use it straight away and call an ambulance.

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