When speaking to customers in-store about their travel plans, I'm noticing that more people are willing to travel further to find the perfect holiday (1). Research shows that 74% of travellers head to tropical destinations without seeking health advice, and of those surveyed 60% said they don't use insect repellent when travelling (2).
Biting bugs need to be taken seriously when it comes to trips abroad, with mosquitoes from more far-flung, exotic locations being responsible for passing on mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and Zika virus.
Even if you're not going abroad, there are still a whole host of biting insects in the UK with 34 different species of mosquito in the UK, amongst other biting bugs (3). So, it's more important than ever to make sure you swot up on the best protection for yourself and your family, whether staying at home or going abroad this summer.
There are lots of precautions you can take to help avoid being bitten, including:
• Being prepared so that you can help reduce your chances of being bitten by using insect repellent containing DEET*
• Covering up with long sleeves, long trousers and shoes if you're outside at sunrise or sunset, when insects, such as mosquitoes are particularly active
• Avoiding strong-smelling soaps, shampoos, deodorants and perfumes because they can attract insects
• Camping away from water, such as ponds and swamps, where mosquitoes and horseflies are commonly found
• Closing insect-resistant screen doors and windows properly
• Sleeping under a mosquito net coated with permethrin (only in tropical areas) and ensure it is tucked in to help you stop being bitten in tropical destinations
• Using a plug-in which releases a low odour insecticide for extra protection while indoors
* Use biocides safely, always read the label before use.
Although mostly harmless, bites can still be irritating and put a preventable dampener on your summer. You can help treat insect bites by keeping the skin clean, try not to scratch and use a cold compress to help relieve itching. Consider using an antihistamine cream to help relieve the itching and speak to a member of our Boots pharmacy team who can help recommend a suitable product.
In some cases, people can have an immediate allergic reaction, which can be dangerous. If you or your family have any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately by calling the emergency services:
• Swollen eyes, lips and mouth
• Breathing difficulties
• Large red weals (marks on the skin)
• Tightness of the chest
For personalised travel advice, the Boots Travel Vaccinations and Health Advice Service* provides a bespoke risk assessment on your local high street. Available in over 270 stores nationwide, the service offers a range of vaccinations and antimalarials as well as advice on bite avoidance measures, sun protection, medication and other protective measures for travellers this summer. The risk assessment is free and convenient appointments are available at evening and weekends.
*Available in selected stores only, suitable for ages 5 and over. Subject to the specially trained pharmacist and stock availability. Eligibility criteria and charges apply.
1. http://press.thomson.co.uk/thomson-predicts-the-rise-of-the-microadventurer/ Last accessed: 01.06.17
2. artec, Arthropod Control Product Test Centre - 2016 (at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) Last accessed: 01.06.17
3. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mosquito-surveillance/distinguishing-aedes-albopictus-the-asian-tiger-mosquito-from-native-british-mosquitoes Last accessed: 01.06.17