By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
July is mosquito awareness month, which is fitting as they are starting to come out in Bermuda now. While we have had a very dry spring, the recent rains will be encouraging an explosion in the mosquito population.
Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water, and most take 10-15 days to develop, which is why it is recommended that you empty out all standing water once a week: empty plant pots should be overturned, water drums should be tightly sealed or emptied and water in bird baths and other features should be emptied out and replenished with fresh water.
But for those mosquitos that we can’t nip in the bud, it is important to keep them at bay! The best way to do that is with mosquito repellent. At Lindo’s we stock a range of mosquito sprays including Off!, Cutter and Go! which contain from 8% to 25% DEET. DEET is one of the most common active ingredients used in bug sprays, developed by the US Army to ward off bites in jungle warfare. Some people find that DEET can be an irritant and can find the smell headache-inducing, so it’s important to try it out to see if it works for you.
For those opposed to DEET, Lindo’s also offers Natrapel repellent which uses picaridin as its active ingredient, which is odourless, less greasy and does not dissolve plastics and other synthetics, which DEET can do. Picaridin was only cleared for use in the USA in 2005, though, so no long-term studies on health have yet been conducted.
For around the clock mosquito protection, you can ward off bites with a citronella wristband. While the smell of these may take a little getting used to, they can be helpful for keeping the insects away until you manage to properly protect yourself with a bug spray. You should use them in conjunction with a repellent to ensure fully effective repellence.
Of course, it is not only yourself that you can protect, but some of your space, too. If you’re making the most of the cooler evenings to eat outside or to host BBQs, make sure to use citronella candles. There are also garden sprays from popular repellent producers, such as Off!, which may be worth investing in if you or your family spend a lot of time outdoors.
If you get bitten, though, it’s helpful to have supplies on hand that will help ease the pain and itchiness of the bites. It is always worth keeping a bug bite ointment, such as Benadryl Itch Stopping Cream, Anthisan or After-Bite in your medicine cabinet. These will give some relief as will some steroid creams, which you can consult a pharmacist or your doctor about.
If you suffer from extremely bad reactions, such as severe swelling of the bite, the area surrounding it feeling hard and hot, oozing or even a low-grade fever, it might be that you suffer from Skeeter Syndrome. For those who have these more serious reactions from mosquito bites, antihistamines can help reduce the symptoms and your pharmacist may be able to recommend other over-the-counter medication to help make you feel better.
If you continue to feel unwell from your bites, particularly if you have recently been travelling, please consult a medical professional.
Remember, though, that while it pays to be vigilant about mosquito bites, make sure that you don’t let it keep you from having fun this summer!
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.