Apparently some people give off a smell that masks the odour that attracts mosquitoes. Some people build up a tolerance to mosquito bites and hardly notice they have been bitten. (This would describe my spousal unit.) Some people attract mosquitoes within 15 seconds of stepping outdoors, and the bites they get swell up to itchy red blotches the size of quarters that bother them for a week or two. That would be me.
Mosquito season is just getting into full swing this year, and I am already getting tired of itchy spots. It is clear that I am allergic to these bites. Yesterday I visited my pharmacist, and she suggested two things. The first is a test run of an antihistamine, in this case Desloratadine. The second is an after bite cream – Hydrocortisone.
Of course, the first lines of defense are repellents, and adequate cover up clothing. The mosquitoes that attack me laugh at both of these things. If there is a square centimeter of unprotected skin, a mosquito will find it. And normal repellents? Not very effective on me for very long.
Friends suggested I try some botanical repellents. So, today I tried out a new mosquito program. I started out with an anti-histamine. Then I lathered my exposed skin with a hand lotion made with grapefruit and lemon. I headed out into the bug war zone… Within seconds the first wave had arrived – and they headed right for my husband. They left me alone. Clearly citrus based products were making me invisible to mosquitoes!
Later that morning the lotion must have worn off, because I got my first bite. I was far from home (and my grapefruit/lemon hand lotion), so I tried my nephews bottle of Off! Botanicals. That worked for a while, but I didn’t like the smell as much. Towards the end of the day, and far from my grapefruit/lemon hand lotion and the Off! Botanical, I tried my daughters Off! Deep Woods. This was reasonably effective, but a bit greasy feeling. By now I had a couple of bites, so I tried the Hydrocortisone Cream, which was very fast acting and effective. Later that night, I put some more cream on. For some reason it didn’t work at all. The next morning I realized why. My little tube of hydrocortisone was missing, but a very similar looking tube of toothpaste was sitting in its place…
Many studies have been conducted to determine repellent effectiveness. Some of them were very scientific, like the one done by The New England Journal of Medicine. They studied 7 products in a controlled laboratory. Some studies were less scientific, like the one related at Bug Off! They tested 9 products and lots of beer. And one study, mine, was haphazard at best, but made me feel like I was going to get through mosquito season more comfortably than last year.
Just when I thought I might be able to get through this summers mosquito season, I disturbed a wasp. It took exception to my presence and stung me. That was two days ago. The area around the bite is now an angry red welt about two inches in diameter. It certainly puts mosquito bites into perspective…