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Dear Dr Nina: 'Why do I react so badly to insect bites?'

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Wear insect repellent with a high level of DEET

Wear insect repellent with a high level of DEET

Wear insect repellent with a high level of DEET

Q Insects seem to find me very attractive and every summer I end up being covered in bites. When other people get bitten, they seem to develop small lumps, but I react in larger weals that sometimes have fluid in them. Last year, I developed an infection, which my GP said was caused by scratching the bites. I have a repellent spray, but it doesn't seem to be very effective. What else can I do to protect myself?

A Insects tend to bite for food or to protect themselves. The most common biting insects include, mosquitoes, ticks, horseflies and spiders. Some insect bites cause a small localised reaction, while others can cause serious systemic infection.

In cooler climates the risk of infection from bites is low (Lyme disease from ticks being the exception), whereas the closer you get to the equator, the risk of infection goes up. Serious infections associated with bites include, malaria, dengue fever, Zika virus, and Lyme disease.


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