In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics, including some of the most cherished medical myths out there. For our March/April 2012 issue, we talked to Michael Palumbo, MD, an allergist with Allergy & Clinical Immunology Associates in Pittsburgh, about the popular idea that honey helps prevent allergies.
Q: Can local honey help my allergies?
A: No. The theory that taking in small amounts of pollen by eating local honey...
Your best bet is avoiding a bite to start with. It may be impossible to prevent all mosquito bites, but there are ways to reduce your risk.
Use insect repellent on exposed skin during prime mosquito hours -- usually from dawn to dusk. Also apply repellent when you’re in wooded or brushy areas.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), insect repellents with DEET or picaridin as active ingredients typically provide protection that lasts longer than others. Studies have also found that oil of lemon eucalyptus provides protection similar to products with low concentrations of DEET.
Wear long-sleeved tops and pants when outdoors.
Don’t let standing water accumulate around your yard. This is where mosquitoes breed. Keep your gutters clean, drain children’s pools, change the water in bird baths regularly, and empty excess water from flower pots.
Keep bugs out of your home by keeping your screens in good condition. Repair any screens with holes or tears.
Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus
Mosquito bites can be an itchy nuisance. But mosquitoes also can carry illness.
In other areas of the world, mosquitoes transmit malaria and Dengue fever. In the United States, mosquitoes can spread West Nile virus. For about 80% of people who are infected, this virus causes no symptoms. But in some people, West Nile virus can cause severe illness and even death. Those more at risk for getting sick from West Nile virus are people aged 50 and older.
Symptoms usually occur three days to two weeks after a bite from an infected mosquito. If you notice any severe symptoms, see your doctor right away. You can usually treat less severe symptoms, such as a mild fever or headache, at home.
Mosquito bites can be a pain, but with a little planning you don’t have to let them ruin your time outdoors.