Health Tips for Travellers No 1 – Avoiding Bugs and Insects

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Protect against bites from bugs and insects.


One of the problems associated with foreign travel especially to more tropical locations is the likelihood of being bitten by bugs, mosquitoes and the like. Indeed in certain parts of the UK summer insects can make your life a misery. Obviously covering up bare exposed flesh as much as possible helps, but this is not always practical or pretty and so I use various natural products to deter the pests.


Vitamin B1 in the form of a B Complex supplement seems to help, apparently the vitamin is excreted in the sweat and puts off biting insects. There is some debate as to the validity of this remedy, but taking B vitamins will not harm you and it works for  some people.

Other products I use are those which are applied topically. I have come across a product called ‘Don’t Bite Me’ which I have used successfully for a few years now, both at home and on our foreign travels. This is a patch or plaster which you apply to a patch of bare skin, and the effects last for up to 36 hours. (This product also contains Vitamin B1). These are particularly good for children.

Essential oils are very useful for keeping bugs at bay. A good insect repellent can be made from equal parts of Lavender, Thyme, Peppermint and a double dose of Lemongrass. Mix 3 drops with a teaspoon of carrier oil to apply directly to the skin, or put a drop or more onto tissue or cloth to keep your room or space clear. Lavender oil can also be applied directly to the skin. Citronella is also known for its insect repellent properties, but should always be diluted in a carrier oil before being applied to the skin.

When travelling to more tropical climates, a more ‘heavy duty’ repellent is often required, especially if malaria carrying insects are around. Most commercially available repellents are DEET based which is not good for your health or your clothes. However, I use a product called SkitoStop by Nikwax which is a really  effective DEET free insect repellent. It also comes in a version which combines a sunscreen. I used this product on my daughter when we travelled through Vietnam and Cambodia and she didn’t get any bites. They also do an after-sun product in the same range.

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