By avoiding mosquito bites and getting rid of standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs.
Do not wear products that have an odor. They attract mosquitoes.
Protect the skin by wearing clothing that puts a barrier over the skin, like long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes, and hats.
Use insect repellents containing diethyltoluamide (DEET). Repellents make the user unattractive to mosquitoes. They do not kill the insects.
DEET is safe and is the most studied and effective mosquito repellent. Generally, higher concentrations of DEET provide longer protection times, but concentrations of more than 50% provide minimal additional benefit. The CDC recommends 20% to 30% DEET concentrations, which provide at least 3 hours of protection.
DEET should not be used in a product that combines the repellent with a sunscreen. Sunscreens are often applied repeatedly because they can be washed off DEET is not water-soluble and will last up to 8 hours. Repeated application of this combination product may increase the potential toxic effects of DEET.
DEET may be applied to exposed intact skin according to CDC instructions (www.cdc.gov/westnile/faq/repellent.html) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/deet).
Apply DEET sparingly on exposed skin; do not use under clothing. If repellent is applied to clothing, wash or dry-clean treated clothing before wearing again.
Do not use DEET on the hands of young children; avoid getting DEET in the eyes and mouth, as DEET irritates these tissues. According to the EPA, there is no age restriction for DEET use. However, it is prudent to carefully comply with the precautions listed herein when using DEET in this age group.
Do not use DEET over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin. Wash treated skin with soap and water after returning indoors; wash treated clothing.
Avoid spraying in enclosed areas; do not use DEET near food.
Non-DEET products containing picaridin or icaridin and IR3535 have been shown to be effective mosquito repellents, although less so than DEET. Some plant-based products, such as oil of lemon, eucalyptus, and citronella, show some benefit, although they are not as effective as DEET.
Many other products claim they prevent mosquito bites, but objective evaluation of them finds they are of little or no value. Among the products that have been found to be ineffective in objective tests are catnip oil, essential plant oils, garlic, vitamin B₁, wearing sound-producing devices, or wearing impregnated wrist bands.
Mosquito traps, bug zappers, ultrasonic repellers, and other devices to prevent mosquito bites are not very effective. Spatial repellent devices that release a repellent material into an area in the form of a vapor are becoming widely available. These products release volatile active ingredients, such as pest repellants metofluthrin and allethrin, and are approved by the EPA for use outdoors. Although many of these products have documented repellent activity, their ability to provide protection from mosquito bites has not been evaluated thoroughly.
If possible, stay inside during dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. When outside at these times, wear long sleeves and long pants.
Check windows to make sure there are no holes in the screens to allow mosquitoes to get indoors.
Empty or remove standing water from wading pools, buckets, pet dishes, flowerpots, areas where gutter drains leave standing water, and other sources that can attract mosquitoes.
Some mosquitoes that spread certain viral diseases are active during the day (eg, Zika virus, which seems to be able to damage a pregnant woman's unborn baby). Where Zika is known to be spreading, pregnant women should use the measures described herein to prevent mosquito bites at any time of day.