Mosquitoes can be quite a problem in Bangkok, especially during the rainy season, as these pesky insects breed in stagnant water. They can also carry diseases – there are dengue fever outbreaks in Bangkok every year. Infants and young children can be especially bothered by bites, which can swell into large itchy patches. Below are some tips on dealing with mosquitoes, especially when it comes to kids:
1. Cover up. Even though the weather may be warm, put protective clothing on your child, especially his or her feet and lower legs. Mosquitoes generally fly along the ground and most bites will occur on the exposed lower extremities.
2. Dress your little ones in light coloured clothing in the evenings or wherever mosquitoes are prevalent during the day. Studies show that some varieties of mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours. Also, parents should avoid perfumes, colognes and heavily scented lotions, which can also attract these tiny predators.
3. Apply mosquito repellent on exposed extremities, or lightly spray repellent directly onto your baby’s clothing each time you leave the house. There are a number of natural alternatives to repellents that contain DEET; these are generally made with citronella and lemongrass oil, and come in spray, stick and patch form. Such products can be found at select drug stores and specialty baby boutiques around the city.
4. Get store-bought mosquito netting to protect your newborn in the car seat, stroller, or other outdoor areas. Inside the house, use the netting over your baby’s crib while he or she sleeps.
5. Use an electric fan when sitting outdoors in the evenings, as mosquitoes don’t like moving air. The wind helps reduce the chance of mosquitoes coming near your children, while also cooling them off.
6. Minimize kids’ exposure to prime mosquito breeding grounds, such as areas with dense vegetation and stagnant water. In your garden, cover standing water in the urns, and empty out children’s water toys, buckets and inflatable pools. For those who have ponds with aquatic plants, add small fish to eat mosquito larvae.
7. Do some basic home prevention, such as installing or repairing broken window screens – mosquitoes can always find a way into your house if you’re not careful. Avoid toxic mosquito coils and insecticide sprays. Instead, have an electronic lamp or racket, available from superstores, on hand to zap unwanted visitors.
8. Stop the itch. If you or your kids happen to get bitten, apply medicated ointments, such as Zam-Buk or Tiger Balm, to reduce swelling. Imported anti-itch creams specifically for tots are also available at specialty baby boutiques. Some BKK parents have recommended placing a ‘warmed’ spoon on the bite to reduce swelling.
9. Know the basics on dengue fever. The disease (‘kai ruat ork’ in Thai) is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito (‘yung lai’), which is most active during the daytime. Unlike other species, it does not travel far from its breeding place; as such, dengue outbreaks tend to occur in localised areas. Symptoms, appearing between five and seven days after being bitten, include headaches, high fever, bone aches, joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, and small red spots that appear on the skin a few days after the onset of fever.
10. Seek medical help immediately, if any of the above symptoms appear. Dengue fever is often mistaken for malaria or influenza; the indication of dengue can be inferred by a blood test. While there is no specific treatment, recovery will take time, with fatigue sometimes lasting several weeks.