Are You a Mosquito Magnet?
Are you so distinguishable that you can easily be picked out of a crowd?
To a mosquito, the answer is yes.
In a recent article, National Geographic examined new research from Johns Hopkins that proves that, even with multiple sources of odor, mosquitoes really do seem to prefer some people over others. The researchers identified the chemicals in each human’s odor profile – an incredibly complex process – because “there are a lot of chemical compounds…in human odor…that no one’s ever classified before.”
The researchers focused on chemicals known to make up human scent and narrowed it down to 15 airborne compounds. They determined that some people had concentrations of various chemicals that mosquitoes really love and that increased their attractiveness to mosquitoes which in turn increased their likelihood of being bitten.
The mosquitoes were especially drawn to carboxylic acids and acetoin which are natural secretions that protect our skin.
When soaps were tested, researchers found that it was how soaps reacted with the individual body chemistry of the person using them rather than their contents and scents alone.
Research to devise fail-safe repellents, like developing individual probiotic solutions to manipulate each person’s microbiome, is still in its infancy. In the meantime, current science says try coconut scented products – it’s the aroma that most consistently deterred mosquitoes. But since it still depends on your personal body odor, researchers recommend experimenting with different soaps to see which one works best with your microbiome.
They also say to wear long sleeves and light-colored clothes, because mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors. And they still say good old DEET is the best repellent. Natural repellents like lemon eucalyptus oil can work, but it’s less effective and must be reapplied more often.
BTW: Mosquitoes can carry dangerous illnesses like Zika, dengue fever, malaria, and West Nile and they’re responsible for more than a million deaths worldwide every year. And as the planet warms, disease-carrying mosquitos are moving farther into the northern hemisphere from their typical tropical homes.
If you’re concerned about any type of insect bite you’ve received, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider. Every plan offered through Your Health Idaho is required to cover ten essential health benefits, including: doctor visits, emergency services, pediatric care and more. View the full list on our Health Insurance 101 page.