This post was inspired by the lovely Claire from Monkey fashionista, who tweeted about currently being covered in bites!
One of the things that I miss about Kilburn (apart from Spicy Basil!) is that I had blissful summers frolicking around the concrete and never woke to find massive itchy-as-hell bites all over my legs! For some reason South London is like a mosquito playground, and it is absolutely horrible!
When my boyfriend gets bitten he has tiny (albeit intensely itchy) red bumps. when I get bitten I get huge red mounds which soon spread and turn every bit of skin nearby into an itchy red nightmare!
Having accepted that I can't move out of my current flat purely because there are mosquitoes there in the summer, I instead spent a really long time last year investigating and testing out every mosquito deterrent and bite cure suggested on the internet, and I now have a system (which generally starts after I've been bitten because I have no idea when the onslaught will begin!). If you want my advice, try out the tips below.... not scientific but they work for me!
After a bite...
You really need to put antihistamine cream on bites asap. Okay it doesn't entirely relieve the itch (I don't think anything does!) but it dulls it enough to ignore it for a while. More importantly antihistamine really is the quickest way to shrink the swelling and bite down a bit. Nothing else I've tried has reduced the size of bites as quickly. I use boots own brand available here for £3.39.
The only problem with antihistamine creams is that you are only supposed to use them for around 3 days, and as anyone who has been bitten by a mosquito knows bites itch for what feel like years! The only genuine relief I've found comes from Aloe Vera Gel. The trick is to get the purest gel you can.
If you can get hold of a aloe vera plant then that's the best thing to use..... just snap of a leaf and squeeze the gel out on to your skin. Available for £3.50 from Ikea here!
If like me you live in a plant free home then the next best thing is a gel, like the one I use from Holland and Barretts (available here). Remember, the purer the better! Use it for as long as you want. It's also hands down the best thing for sunburn and general soreness of the skin. Love the stuff!
Preventing bites (general stuff)
some of the things I'm about to say seem obvious, others are a bit odd, but stick with me!
OBVIOUSLY mosquitoes like sweet blood. If you eat lots of sugary things then you will be more tasty (this is probably why they love me so much!) so cut down on the sugar.
By the same token biting insect also like fruity perfumes (another reason they like me i'm sure!) so any sensible person would avoid wearing fruity scents... I still wear mine 'cause I'm a fool!.
Apparently mosquitoes hate garlic, which is a good reason to eat lots of it. Garlic has so many heath benefits that it warrants being eaten anyway, but I think another reason I get bitten much more than my boyfriend is because he often has very garlicky food, and it does tend to seep out of his skin at night!
This one might sound nuts, but if you are a bit sweaty and smelly (particularly in the foot department) then your likely to be attractive to mosquitoes. In summer my feet always get so sweaty, and I do tend to get bitten around my ankles and calves so I think this theory holds water. I guess it makes sense as they love warm and wet smelly swampy areas! I always wash (at least) my feet before bed at this time of year!
Preventing bites (hardcore solutions!)
Other than squashing any mosquito that dares enter my home, I have a fantastic product that really turns them off me! Deet works for some people, but has always been useless on me, no matter which country I'm in or how much I use. To be honest I'm never too happy about spraying myself in nasty chemicals anyway, and (not to sound too much like a hippy!) nature often provides a cure for these things!
Thank you nature for citronella! It's what all the candles and coils you see on holiday are made of, but I have no time in my life for things I have to burn and I definitely don't want anything burning in my flat overnight!
My first point is important - Citronella is not the same as citrus, it is actually a type of lemongrass. Don't be fooled into thinking that citrus fruits are similar, they're not! Citrus fruits are bitter to us, but full of sugars so they are very attractive to insects!
The trick with citronella is to get a pure oil like the one above (available from Holland And Barrett here) so that it's safe to use on your skin. IMPORTANT! Test out a teeny tiny bit of the oil on your skin and leave it for a day or so to make sure it doesn't irritate you. If you okay with it, then here is how I use it...
Get yourself a travel spray bottle (Mine is from poundland, but you can get them from boots / superdrug etc) and fill it about 3-4 full with water. add a few drops of citronella oil (4-5 drops is all you need - it's very strong!) then shake it all up. You can use this to spray you sheets, or if like me you are a mosquitoes favorite meal you can spray it directly onto your naked skin. I spray it on evey bit of me. I also keep the bottle in the fridge so that it's nice and cooling in this hot weather before bed! I reapply it if I get up in the night (because it does of course start to wear off), and hey presto, no more bites! It isn't the best smell in the world but it's okay, and it's a very small price to pay for a bite free life!
If you're as attractive to mosquitoes as I am at this time of year, then I also think it's worth investing in a plug in mosquito replant. The citronella stops them biting me, but it doesn't stop them hanging around in my flat. This plug-in seems to have sent them packing and I sleep more soundly knowing they're not buzzing around my bed! The boots plug-in which I have lasts for about 45 days (I'm actually only switching it on in the evenings and over night to try to make it last longer) and costs £9.20, but it seems worth it. Boots currently have a buy one get one half price offer on these so I got this and a refill.
I hope someone out there found this helpful, back to clothes for the next post I promise! Oh, and don't forget I'm having a blog sale here!