After a long, summer day of barbecue and pick-up sports, you may find yourself covered in bites… while your friends are untouched.
What makes certain people more attractive to mosquitoes? It depends, mostly, on your genetics; 20 percent of people are considered “high attractors,” meaning they're especially prone to bites.
Mosquito bites are generally harmless, aside from being bit painful, but with illnesses such as Zika, malaria and West Nile virus on the rise, it doesn’t hurt to protect yourself.
Here are the four kinds of people mosquitos are most attracted to:
- Pregnant women
Mosquitoes use carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas we exhale, to find their targets; amazingly, they can find people from almost 165 feet away! Larger people, including pregnant women, emit more CO2 than an average sized person, making them bigger targets for bites. Mosquitoes can also sense higher internal temperatures, which is linked to pregnancy.
Most people love to sip a cold beer at a backyard barbecue, but beware -- drinking alcohol increases your chances of being bitten. Scientists aren't sure what attracts mosquitoes to liquor, but some believe drinking can raise your internal temperature.
Alcohol appears to be the only food or drink that attracts mosquitoes, but unfortunately, there aren’t foods that repel them. There are stories about eating garlic or bananas to ward off bugs, but they are simply myths.
Mosquitoes love sweat. They're attracted to the chemicals found in perspiration, so be prepared if you're planning to play an outdoor sport or activity.
If you still want to be active outdoors, maintain proper hydration to reduce the chemicals in your sweat. If you're hydrating, what you're sweating out will be more diluted and less appealing to mosquitos.
- People with type O blood
Blood type is a huge factor that'll increase your risk of mosquito bites -- specifically, people with type O blood. Mosquitoes are 83 percent more likely to land on people with type O than people with type A, B or AB blood. People with type A blood are the lucky ones -- they’re the least likely to get bitten.
There’s not much you can do regarding your blood type, but there are measures you can take to protect yourself from mosquitoes.
What you can do to prevent mosquito bites
Repellent with 30 percent DEET is your best bet in preventing irritating bites. If you want a more natural repellent option, a combination of eucalyptus and lemon oil can be just as effective as low percent DEET. When possible, you should also wear long sleeves and pants to create a barrier between your skin and mosquitoes.
And if you do get mosquito bites?
Calm that area down with an oatmeal bath, calamine lotion or anything to reduce the irritation of that area, which will make you less likely to scratch.