How Susceptible Are You To Mosquito Bites?December 4, 2016
Being in a hot and humid climate means that mosquitoes – and having to deal with diseases borne by mosquitoes – are part and parcel of living in Singapore. Dengue has been an epidemic in Singapore for a long time and now, there’s another threat in the form of the dreaded Zika virus.
But why is it that some people are more susceptible to mosquito bites than others? And are natural insect repellents really that effective in ensuring that you don’t get bitten? Here are some things you need to know.
1. Mosquitoes favour people with blood type O
Genetics is an important factor in determining how likely you are to be bitten by these pests. Studies have shown that people with blood type O are 83 percent more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes, followed by those with blood types B and A respectively.
2. The more carbon dioxide you emit, the more likely you’ll be bitten
Mosquitoes use carbon dioxide to locate their prey, making larger people and pregnant women – who excrete higher levels of carbon dioxide in their breaths –prime targets. However, mosquitoes are also attracted to substances such as lactic acid, uric acid, and ammonia, all of which can be found in sweat. Therefore, you are at a higher than usual risk of being bitten when you exercise, due to the combination of sweat and high levels of carbon dioxide excreted.
3. Mosquitoes are attracted to alcohol drinkers
While the jury is still out as to why this happens, it’s been proven that even just drinking one bottle of beer is enough to make you more attractive to mosquitoes. Some scientists believe it’s because drinking alcohol increases your body temperature; others think it’s because it changes your body odour. Both are factors that make you more susceptible to being bitten by these bloodsuckers.
4. Some naturally derived compounds work well as mozzie repellents
The chemical DEET found in some repellents is known for being extremely effective against mosquitoes. However, it may bring with it side effects such as skin irritation, rashes, nausea, headaches, and more. Fortunately for us, the oil of lemon eucalyptus (which is usually refined to p-Menthane-3,8-diol, or PMD, before it is used in bug spray) has also been proven to be effective in keeping mosquitoes away. The oil of lemon eucalyptus has far fewer side effects than DEET and, ideally, the repellent should contain a 30 percent concentration for a longer protection period. With a lower concentration, the repellent would have to be applied more frequently. While some plant-based oils such as citronella and rosemary have been touted as natural insect repellents, scientific evidence seems to suggest that these are not effective at all.
6. Your diet does not decrease your chances of being bitten
For the longest time, it was believed that eating lots of garlic could help ward off mosquitoes, as the smell of it when you sweat would act as a natural repellent. Scientists, however, have debunked the notion that changing your diet in any way will ward off mozzies, be it garlic pills or Vit B. There is nothing you could eat that would lessen your chances of being bitten. Insect repellent is still your best bet.
Of course, the best way to keep mosquitoes at bay is to minimise the chances of them breeding in the first place. Find out how you can do your part to eliminate the breeding grounds of mosquitoes.