Exactly How To Bug-Proof Your Summer And Beat The Itch


Women's Health |

By Crystelle Coulon; Photograph by Freepik

Don’t let the bugs bite this Summer. Here’s how to avoid scratching your way through summer with our pest-proof guide.

Ixodes (Tick)

Favourite Hangout

The veld, especially where it’s warm and humid – such as the east coast. “Ticks sit on grass stalks or leaves and wait for animals or humans to pass by so they can latch on,” says entomologist Dr David Merritt.

Signs You’ve Been Bitten

You’ll find a tick in your bits. Seriously. “Often people don’t realise they’ve been bitten until they scratch an area and find a tick,” says Merritt. Preferred dining areas: hairline, armpits and groin. Symptoms can include an unsteady gait, weakness in your limbs, multiple rashes, headache, fever, flu-like symptoms and partial facial paralysis.

Avoid Being Lunch

Wear tight clothing, like leggings, rather than baggy gear in the veld.

Ease the Itch

Get it out! It’s crucial to get the whole tick out as its head can continue releasing toxins even after the body has been removed.

READ MORE: What Happens To Your Body When A Mosquito Bites You?

Culicidae (Mosquito)

Favourite Hangout

Mozzies love living near water – because this is where the suckers breed. “Always empty pots and containers around your house after it rains, or mosquitoes will set up camp,” cautions Merritt.

Signs You’ve Been Bitten

A bite is red, raised and itchy as hell.

Avoid Being Lunch

Use an insect repellant containing DEET – it confuses mozzies by jamming their odour receptors. DEET-based repellants keep mozzies at bay for around 300 hours, while citronella-based ones need to be reapplied every 20 minutes, adds Dr Pete Vincent of Netcare Travel Clinics, who also advises spraying your clothing with fabric insecticides containing Permethrin.

Ease The Itch

If you don’t have OTC cream, GP Dr John Murtagh suggests rubbing dry soap on the bite. Desperate? Vinegar and saliva may also help.

Cimex lectularius (Bed bug)

Favourite Hangout

Mattresses, headboards and carpets in backpackers and dirty hotel rooms.

Signs You’ve Been Bitten

You’ll wake up with a cluster of itchy red lumps on your body – they often run in a line as the buggers like to follow your veins.

Avoid Being Lunch

Thoroughly check your mattress, bedframe and base for bugs – or their little red droppings. “Bed bugs drink blood, so naturally they excrete it too,” says Merritt. Ew!

Ease The Itch

Immediately hop in a cold shower and clean the bites with antiseptic soap to prevent them getting infected, recommends Murtagh. Post shower, slather on some good ol’ calamine lotion to dull your desire to scratch.

READ MORE: Is It Food Poisoning Or A Stomach Bug? Here’s How You Can Tell

Siphonaptera (Flea)

Favourite Hangout

Your beloved furry housemates.

Signs You’ve Been Bitten

Small, red, itchy bumps, grouped in clusters of around three or more.

Avoid Being Lunch

Use a flea comb to inspect your pet’s skin at least once a month, recommends Murtagh. If you find any fleas, be sure to use a vet recommended topical treatment. On your pet, that is. PS: never use a dog flea treatment on your cat or vice versa, as the ingredients are different and can be deadly when used on the wrong animal.

Ease The Itch

If you’re the one scratching, head to your pharmacist for a cortisone cream (you may need a prescription). Then, to ensure you’ve wiped the critters out of your home, wash all linen on a hot setting and treat your carpets with a DIY fumigation bomb.

READ MORE ON: Health Health Advice