How does the insect repellent work

Insect repellent, protection against insect bites

How does insect repellent work? Why are some people stung more often than others?

Read here what insect repellants can and cannot do.

Why is it that mosquitoes are particularly fond of biting certain people? The "sweet blood" at least is not responsible for it.

The factors that make a person attractive to mosquitoes are complex and not known in detail. The smell plays an important role. Of the 300 to 400 substances released by the human body, carbon dioxide and lactic acid are the best studied and known to attract mosquitoes.

Skin temperature and moisture also play a role. The microflora that live on human skin produce a wide variety of odorous substances (kairomones), for example through the microbial breakdown of fatty acids. These also attract mosquitoes.

Mosquito bites are mostly `` harmless '' in our latitudes

Mosquitoes do not have a poison sting, but a kind of proboscis. After the bite, the mosquito injects saliva into the skin. This saliva has, among other things, ingredients that ensure that the blood does not clot and the puncture site becomes insensitive. Then blood sucking for the mosquito can begin.

The ingredients of the mosquito saliva trigger a slight allergic reaction at the puncture site. This causes the body to release so-called histamines, which cause the small swelling and itching. The symptoms are mostly temporary, even if the itching starts again days later.

However, some people react very violently to the sting. You get hives, extensive redness and swelling, sometimes also fever, vomiting, shortness of breath and circulatory disorders. The frequently attempted topical application of gels against itching usually does not help here. In the case of strong reactions, the use of orally taken antihistamines and local cortisone lotions or creams is recommended.

The role of mosquitoes in infectious diseases

Infectious diseases (e.g. malaria, yellow fever, meningitis in early summer, Lyme borreliosis) are transmitted worldwide by various insects.

Mosquitoes play a particularly important role here, as they transmit pathogens to more than 700 million people every year. Every year three million people die from malaria alone. For tourists and also for the population living there, protection, the so-called exposure prophylaxis, with the external use of chemical substances and physical measures, is of particular importance. In particular, since some problems such as the development of resistance and undesirable effects also arise in the treatment and prophylaxis of malaria with medication. In addition, the people living there are usually unable to pay for these drugs.

Which insect protection options are there?

Protection against mosquitoes can be done with repellants, insecticides or physical methods. Repellants are substances that - applied to the skin - are supposed to keep mosquitoes away. Insecticides, on the other hand, have a direct toxic effect on the insect's nervous system. Physical protective measures include mosquito screens, bed nets, appropriate clothing, and personal hygiene.

The selection of suitable protection depends on the respective situation. For stays in the tropics, stricter measures must be taken against mosquitoes than in our latitudes. Chemical substances need to be used more carefully in young children and pregnant women. In addition, whether the insect to be repelled is only active at night or day and night plays a role in the duration of use

Long clothing, substances that keep mosquitoes away or are toxic to them: there are various ways to protect yourself from them. But what really helps against the annoying bloodsuckers?