How to Arm Yourself Against the Mosquito

Ah, summer has arrived. Time for swimming, barbeques and, if you're not careful, mosquito bites. Some are hunkering down for a bug-filled summer, thanks in part to increased rain, which creates more stagnant pools of water that mosquitoes use as breeding grounds. If you live in a wet area and staying inside is not an option, here are a few ways experts say you can beat the mosquito:

Wear an effective bug repellant.
Don't mix sun block and bug spray. Bug spray can decrease the efficacy of the sunscreen by 50 percent. Don't load up with bug spray until dusk.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when you can.

Is Deet Safe?

Some avoid Deet, saying it irritates their skin and allegations of potential toxicity, especially with regard to children under 12. If you're concerned about using Deet, try a eucalyptus- or peppermint-based insect repellant. Used in conjunction with citronella candles or tiki torches, non-Deet products can help to keep bugs at bay.

And if all else fails, here are some bug bite remedies and tips that are known to relieve pain and itch:

Aloe vera
Ice (it cools the skin, and covers it so you can't scratch)
Topical Benedryl
Over-the-counter Cortaid [or prescription-strength verdesophone]
Cut your nails! (if you don't have a weapon you can't go to war)
Zyrtec [an antihistamine, can relieve itching]

And here some myths about bug repellants:

Keeping sheets of fabric softener in your pocket. It does not work.
Mixing mouthwash with water on your skin. This can irritate your skin.
Industrial-strength soaps, such as the West Indian remedy, "black soap." These sulfur-containing products have never been proven to repel mosquitoes.
Dietary choices such as chocolate or bananas. There is no evidence that foods with sugar, processed or natural, help.