Insect bites - how to avoid getting bitten on holiday

Many travellers jump at the chance to visit beautiful, tropical destinations that are packed with unusual flora and fauna. Tropical regions can also be home to weird and wonderful creepy crawlies, some of which transmit diseases or contain deadly venom in their bites.

Insect bites can cut a holiday short, so it's important to remain vigilant in tropical destinations. Avoid getting bitten so that you can enjoy your holiday to the max, safe in the knowledge that you've done everything you can to avoid insect bites.

Mosquitoe Bites

Mosquitoes pose the biggest problem in tropical destinations. They transfer viral diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever.

Visit your doctor before you travel if you are going to regions that are prone to malaria or yellow fever. Your doctor can prescribe antimalarials to keep the disease at bay. Get vaccinated for yellow fever, and remember that to enter certain countries you will need to show your yellow fever certificate to prove that you have been vaccinated.

Mosquito-borne diseases are avoidable if you take all the necessary steps to prevent you from getting bitten.

Below are some top tips for avoiding pesky bloodsuckers:

  • Use an insect repellent that contains at least 50% DEET
  • Cover arms and legs at twilight and dusk when mosquitoes are most active
  • Wear clothing that has been impregnated with Permethrin
  • If snoozing under the stars, sleep under a mosquito net. Make sure the netting doesn't touch your skin
  • Avoid wearing fragrances that might attract mosquitoes
  • Use citronella candles to deter mosquitoes
  • There are theories that garlic can repel mosquitoes, but this has not been proven

Tick, spider and scorpion bites

In addition to mosquitoes, you need to avoid being bitten by ticks, spiders and scorpions. Ticks carry Lyme disease, while spiders and scorpions can be poisonous.

Here's what to do to avoid getting bitten:

  • Wear long trousers and closed toed shoes when walking through long grass or undergrowth. Tuck your trousers into your socks - it may not look cool but it'll prevent critters from crawling up into your trousers
  • Be wary of dark areas and try not to disturb rocks or fallen logs where scorpions might be hiding
  • Inspect your bed thoroughly each night to check there's nothing lurking inside
  • If you are camping, keep the tent zipped up at all times

If you are bitten by a spider or scorpion, you might experience a stinging pain around the bite. Other symptoms include sweating, headaches, dizziness, rashes, nausea and vomiting. Malaria and dengue fever are often characterised by flu-like symptoms. Visit the nearest hospital if you think you have been bitten and you feel unwell.

Before you travel, make sure you buy comprehensive travel insurance that will cover your medical expenses. has a range of great value policies including single trip and annual multi-trip travel insurance. We even offer backpacker travel insurance.

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