New blood in town

I guess it was inevitable. Within 24 hours of landing in New Zealand I was covered in mosquito bites. I have always been sensitive to insect bites, particularly mosquitos and living by the coast as we are at the moment means that the little buggers are everywhere.

“Oooh, they just LOVE foreign blood!” chuckled my mother-in-law when I told her of my plight. Apparently the same thing happened to my father-in-law (originally from South London) when he arrived in the country. Although he had it much worse in that my mother-in-law and her friends also took him to the beach so he ended up burnt AND bitten.

At least I have sun cream.

The upswing of being catnip to mosquitos is that no-one else in my immediate vicinity will get bitten; you’re welcome.

At the moment, avoiding bites and treating the bites I already have is in the experimental phase. In terms of treating the bites, I’ve found that topical antihistamine does very little to ease the intense itching and oral antihistamines don’t do anything either. So I asked our local pharmacist for some hydrocortisone cream. You can buy the 0.5% stuff over the counter but if you need the stronger 1% cream, you have to ask the pharmacist. I have something called Skeeter Syndrome so if I’m bitten by a mozzie, the bite will come up in a HUGE and very unsightly blister surrounded by a patch of angry and incredibly itchy red skin the size of a saucer. So the first thing I do is cover it to reduce the risk of knocking it and getting it infected; a plaster if it’s on my leg and a bandage if it’s on my arm. The skin on my arm seems to be really sensitive to plaster adhesive making the bite appear even worse which is why a bandage works better in this sense. If I’m bitten by a gnat or chigger, the bites are itchy but nowhere near as alarming looking as a mozzie bite. I forgot my key one day after dropping the kids off from school, and had to sit outside on the porch while my husband finished the work call he was on. It was an overcast day, not particularly warm and I was sitting on the wooden deck looking at my phone with my legs dangling off the edge. I remember feeling smug, thinking that nothing was going to bit my ankles today as my jeans fell completely over my trainers with no way in for a blood thirsty mozzie. My smugness quickly faded when I glanced down at my wrist and saw a tiny black fly sitting on it. I gave it a sharp slap but it was too late. Sigh.

I’ve seen many weird and wonderful treatments suggested online from applying coconut oil to rubbing soap on the bite but I’ve decided to try a more gentle and natural method of aromatherapy oils.

I ordered a custom blend from Ora Aromatherapy which the lovely Kate prepared and shipped for me the same day.

So far, I’ve not been bitten while wearing it. I don’t think it would be good for days where you’d need to wear sunscreen given that it’s an oil but it’s perfect for rubbing into my ankles when I’m wearing loose fitting jeans. Believe it or not, I’ve even been bitten on the ankles while standing in long grass while wearing jeans. I swear, the bastards just hone in on me.

Of course the best thing is not to get bitten in the first place but aside from sealing yourself in your house all day there’s no way you can eliminate that risk entirely. The next best thing is to cover your skin with both with fabric and with an insect repellent. Gone are the visions I had of breezing down to the beach in shorts and Birkenstocks, sporting a fabulous Panama hat and an enviable tan. My excursions to the beach involve layers of DEET, skinny jeans and trainers. Not exactly beach attire but there’s no reason I can’t still wear the hat.

The nice man at Mitre 10 (the B&Q equivalent here in New Zealand) was very puzzled when I asked where the mosquito nets were.

“There aren’t many mozzies round at the moment, are there?” he asked.

“It only takes one,” I replied in a sombre tone that no doubt gave the impression that it would be wise not to question my purchase any further.

While some people recommend eating a certain yeast extract spread, bananas, or even drinking beer to prevent getting bitten, there is no scientific evidence that any of these things makes any difference. However, it has been proven that mosquitos are attracted to people with higher body temperatures as well as people who sweat more.

Oh dear.

Anyone who knows me will be aware of how completely intolerant I am to heat and will therefore understand that I have quite the challenge ahead of me. But again, if you know me you’ll also know that I’m not one to back down.

Bring it on, mozzies. Bring. It. On.


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