Natural Remedies for Avoiding Mosquitoes and the Zika Virus
Rising temps brings more bugs, and bug bites. How can you safely avoid Zika infections - a global health risk that is being seen as far more troublesome than originally predicted? You don't have to rely on toxic-heavy solutions to stay safe. Ditch the DEET and learn how to safely protect your family from mosquitoes and possible infection.
Last month, officials from the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledged that the Zika virus is now present in 30 states, as opposed to the initially reported 12, and that there is potential for hundreds of thousands of infections in Puerto Rico. In fact, the recent death of a 70-year-old Puerto Rican man was the first death attributed to Zika infection in the continental U.S. or territories. The virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, produces symptoms that include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). In pregnancy, however, the infection can be much more serious with the threat of causing a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Additionally, CDC officials have stated that Zika can likely be problematic during much of the pregnancy versus just during the first trimester, as was previously believed.
As the weather warms, and the current weather pattern of El Nino has an even greater effect, concerns about increased risk in the United States has been heightened. CDC officials have requested that Congress support and pass $1.9 billion in emergency funding for Zika preparedness that the Obama administration requested in February. El Nino is a climate pattern characterized by warming waters in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean; typically, this brings warmer temperatures and heavy precipitation to Latin and South America. It can create conditions that help mosquito populations, and the diseases they can transmit such as the Zika virus, to flourish and thrive. The World Health Organization has also recognized that El Nino is assisting in the “explosive spread” of the Zika virus. For the United States, as spring and summer bring rises in temperature, it’s possible that the Aedes aegypti mosquito will find more suitable conditions in the north to breed.
So what can you do to protect yourself, especially if you’re pregnant or hoping to conceive in the coming months? Covering yourself in chemical-laden bug repellent doesn’t have to be the answer, nor is it the best one. Here are five ways to protect yourself, and your little one, naturally from mosquitoes this summer:
Make a natural repellent spray:
Mix 2.5 teaspoons of an oil – olive oil, sunflower oil, or any cooking oil – with 1 cup of a grain alcohol (like distilled vodka) or witch hazel in an empty spray bottle. Next add essential oils that work well against mosquitoes, such as cinnamon oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, citronella oil, lavender or castor oil. You can also fill the remainder of your spray bottle with a bit of distilled water. If using a smaller spray bottle – a 2 oz. glass amber bottle works well – fill it up 1/3 of the way with your grain alcohol or witch hazel, add the essential oil(s), and then top it off with distilled water. Make sure to shake before spraying, test a small area of your skin first, and store in a cool, dark place. (Additional tip: You can also use this mixture as a spray inside your home to ward off many different types of bugs.)
A specific recommended ratio and recipe is:
- 20 drops Citronella
- 10 drops Lemongrass
Use citronella candles in your outdoor spaces: mosquitoes hate the smell of citronella – hence the recommendation of using citronella oil in a spray – and will avoid them.
Plant basil, rosemary, marigolds and mums around the outdoor spaces you are likely to enjoy this summer: all of these herbs and plants are natural mosquito repellents.
Cover up. Try to cover as much of your skin as possible with lightweight fabric, including your head and feet (think: socks under sandals, hats with flaps, long-sleeved t-shirts and pants). Mosquitoes can bite through knitted clothing but have trouble with woven fabric, so a stiff cotton shirt is a better option than a swimsuit.
Mosquito Repelling Wristband: There are other natural options available, including wristbands that you can wear on your wrist or ankle. Filled with natural oils, the bands’ active ingredients are released into the air around you, helping to mask the scents of your breath and body, therefore making it harder for mosquitoes to find you. Shop safer with Pure Living’s new online shop coming in July 2016, where you will find Parakito bands just like this.
Stay informed and learn more up-to-date information about the Zika Virus here.