Melody Teh

News

Thu, 14 Jan, 2016

Why mosquitoes are more attracted to some people

Why mosquitoes are more attracted to some people

There's no doubt we're in the midst of mosquito season and if you’re finding you’re getting bitten left right and centre, while the person next to you manages to escape bite-free, there’s a reason for it – and it’s not because the mozzies have a personal vendetta against you.

Dr Cameron Webb, Principal Hospital Scientist and Clinical Lecturer, told The Huffington Post Australia, “Some people are definitely more likely to suffer a mosquito bite than others.”

He added, “But it's not just the number of bites that vary from person to person. Each individual will react to a mosquito bite differently. In the same way we all differ in our reaction to food, chemical or environmental allergens, we all differ in our reaction to the saliva mozzies inject when they feed.”

So what is it about a person that makes them so delicious to mosquitoes?

“Mosquitoes target in on individuals based on a range of factors. First and foremost, it is the carbon dioxide we exhale. That signals to the mosquitoes that there is a warm-blooded animal about,” explained Webb.

“Secondly, it is the chemical cocktail of smelly substances on our skin that determines how frequently we’ll be bitten by mosquitoes. The mix of these 300 or so chemical compounds on our skin attracts (or sometimes repels) mosquitoes.

"Blood type may play a role but there is certainly not a blood type mosquitoes will completely ignore. Probably the best natural repellent is a thick covering of body hair!"

But if you do want to escape the unbearable itchy sensation, Webb recommends looking for products containing DEET.

"The insect repellents that provide the longest lasting protection are those that contain 'DEET' or 'picaridin'. They’re commonly found in all the popular brands found on supermarket shelves. Make sure they’re applied as a thin and even coat on all exposed skin, as a dab ‘here and there’ won’t provide adequate protection,” he advised. 

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