- About 1 in 10 people bitten will react in an allergic fashion.
- The bites will linger for different amounts of time in different people.
- And can vary in the itching intensity from time to time, and person to person.
- Bites will vary in size, appearance, and itch, due to differing amounts and impact of individual allergic mediators.
- Only the female midges, sand flies and mosquitoes bite, as they need blood protein to make eggs.
- Some people seem to get bitten more than others.
- Biting insects seek heat, CO2, and ammonia to find their victims.
Myth or Fact
Midges live in the sand and mud of coastal habitats such as swampy waterways, lagoons, estuaries, tidal flats and mangroves. They are very small and even though they do look like a fly, they are too small to see their wings. Because they are so small, they can easily fly through normal insect screens. Midge screens are available, and are worth fitting if you intend on cruising through areas such as Hinchenbrook Channel, Far North Queensland and Northern Territory.
|On Our Dreamtime we have a fully enclosed cockpit. But we have also installed screens to our companionways.|
Midges and mosquitos will attack all animals, so you will sometimes notice birds reacting to being bitten. For those of you with pets, you may have noticed the same.
Many species of mosquitoes are not blood eaters and of those that are, only the females bite. Of most concern is the fact that some mosquito species carry diseases. By passing from host to host, some transmit extremely harmful infections such as Malaria, Yellow Fever, Chikungunya, West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Firariais, Zika and other arboviruses, rendering it the deadliest insect in the world.
Female and male Midge/Mosquito/Sandfly will both feed on vegetables fluids and nectar for energy, but again only the female will bite. The female has piercing and sucking mouth parts, which suck blood and cause the classic allergic response. A bite is made in the skin and saliva is injected to prevent blood clotting, thereby allowing the blood to be sucked up.
|Blisters can form|
Remedies fall into three categories.
* Stop the insect biting – apply before you are likely to be bitten.
* Neutralise the toxin – apply immediately you have been bitten.
* Relieve the itch – apply after the bites have developed.
Australian First Aid practice encourages you to:
* Avoid localities that are known to be frequented with biting midges, especially at dawn and dusk.
* Anchor a minimum of 100 meters from these areas.
* Wear protective clothing in the early morning, late afternoon and evenings. This includes long sleeve pants, long sleeve shirts with a collar and closed in shoes.
Some preventative measures you can try:
- Start burning mozzie coils just before dusk.
- When indoors, use ceiling and pedestal fans as a deterrent. Most insects don’t like air currents and will normally avoid them.
- Close up with the boat up with screens/nets and stay below during these high activity times.
- Apply tropical strength spray/lotion repellents to exposed skin. Most contain DEET (15-20%) There are many commercial options available
- KAKADU BLUE, Aussie Blue An Australian made tropical repellent. http://www.australianbluecypress.com.au/blue-off
- Apply 1/2 tspn Bushmans 80% Deet mixed with your favourite sunscreen or moisturiser.# http://www.bushman-repellent.com
- Ozzie Mozzie Repellent is highly effective against most biting and annoying insects including mosquitoes which carry Ross River virus, Dengue fever and Malaria. http://ozziemozzie.com.au
For those conscious about using toxins on the skin, you may prefer the natural options listed. Focus on areas such as your ankles, neck and scalp.
- Daintree Naturals offer a great mosquito and sand fly repellant. # http://daintree-essentials.com.au/products/lifestyle/tropical-insect-repellent-125ml.html
- Apply baby oil - This can very effective against midges/sandflies as the oil creates a barrier on the skin preventing saliva of the insect from reaching it. No saliva = no bit - no itch. (Some people alos suggest using baby oil mixed with Dettol)
- If you do a search on the web for sandfly or midge repellents you will come up with Avon Skin-so-soft, I haven’t tried it but have read many glowing reviews, stories of use by UK Special Forces. It seems it works on the same principle as baby oil.
- Apply Lemon + Eucalyptus Oil.
- Take high doses of B12 [1000mg] daily, at least two months before going to the location.
- Eat lots of banana, or rub inside of Banana skin to bites.
- A few drops of lavender, lemon and eucalyptus essential oil mixed with coconut oil as carrier.
- Applying SOOV cream to the affected area/s – the “cool” in the gel takes relieves the itch.
- Calamine lotion. Ok for kids but maybe not the most suitable option for adults.
- Numbing spray for instant, short term relief.
- Tea Tree oil.
- Aloe Vera.
- VapoRub rubbed onto bites.
- Rainforest Rejuvenation If you have been bitten, this product neutralises the toxin and relieving the itch – it is a combination of natural rainforest oils and sea salt made in Kuranda, near Cairns Qld. http://m.rainforestrejuvenation.vpweb.com.au
- Lavender oil is great for neutralising and soothing mozzie bites.
- Aah the wonders of vinegar – not only is it a powerful mould killer, cleaner, neutraliser of jelly fish poison and fabric softener but vinegar is an excellent neutraliser of biting insect toxins. This works for sandflies, as the toxin is in the urine they leave on your skin you can wash it off.
- Hot spoon applied to bites. The heat takes the itch away and neutralises the toxins.
- Apply Apple Cider Vinegar to bites.
- The application of a cold compress, such as an ice pack or wet cloth will provide some relief.
- Stop Itch or Stingoes lotion from the pharmacy.
- Antihistamine. You need one specific for bites – speak to the pharmacy on which would be best.
Some unusual remedies we have heard of:
- Liberally covering bites, with Windex,(window cleaner), it is suppose to neutralise the toxin.
- Deodorant . It seems to have some power to neutralise the bites, but mainly it stops the itch by sealing the bite from exposure to the air.
- Blue gel toothpaste, Squeeze a little bit on each bite and the menthol from the blue gel takes the heat and the sting out of the bite.
- Bicarbonate soda + water = paste applied to the bite.
- Vegemite applied to bites. (Only in Australia we say... Seriously though some people believe it works.)
- Rub with garlic ... Apply only if sleeping alone.
- Onion rub into bite 30 minutes before a shower.
- Turmeric root rubbed into bite.
- Listerine mouth wash rubbed onto bites.
Don’t Scratch! (even if you feel it's driving you insane)
If you are not treating the allergy, you will not be minimising symptoms, or minimising their duration.
Local anaesthetic creams are very helpful symptom relievers, especially when used in combination with antihistamines, and hydrocortisone cream, if required. Hydrocortisone is an invaluable adjunct to antihistamines if there is any fluid/blistery look to intact bites.
In the past, we have had crew members bitten badly which resulted in welts –special medication and steroid cream is needed to assisted them with the bites. The cream/lotion that the doctor prescribed, once applied to the affected areas – using glad wrap put on the area, to allow the cream to really soak into the bite – leaving this overnight and it worked very well.