The World Health Organization (WHO) marks April 25 as World Malaria Day. Malaria is still prevalent in several countries including India, and according to WHO, malaria continues to kill 4,00,000 people annually. This number can be reduced considerably by taking preventive measures. The theme for World Malaria Day 2017 is ‘End Malaria for Good’ and one of the key ways to do so is to prevent it from infecting people. According to WHO reports, there has been a 21 per cent decrease in the number of malaria cases from 2010 to 2015, however, the fight isn’t over yet. And so, it is important that you take these preventive measures to ensure that you do not get infected by malaria-causing mosquitoes. Here are our top tips to prevent malaria. (ALSO SEE List of WHO health days in 2017)

Sleep under a mosquito net

mosquito net

mosquito net

One of the key preventive measures to take to keep malaria at bay is to sleep under a mosquito net. This net seals the entry of mosquitoes and prevents them from biting you when you are asleep as you are not likely to realize a mosquito bite when you are deep asleep. This is also a natural way to prevent malaria as you don’t have to rely on mosquito sprays or creams.

Make sure that there are no mosquitoes inside the net after you have secured it around your bed. Tuck the mosquito net under your mattress to prevent mosquitoes from coming inside once you are asleep. This will also prevent you from putting your leg or hand outside the net when asleep.

Wash the mosquito net once ever week or 10 days to keep it clean from dust that may have accumulated over time. The net should have very tiny holes so that mosquitoes don’t get in. However, if it gets torn, make sure you replace it as it defeats the purpose of keeping mosquitoes at bay.

Use citronella oil to keep mosquitoes away

citronella oil

citronella oil

Citronella oil is an essential oil that is obtained from a species of lemongrass plant. It has a distinct fragrance and is often used in perfumes, soaps, beauty products and more. However, citronella oil is also known for its insect-repellent properties. The oil works on human skin and keeps insects including mosquitoes at bay.

Since citronella is an essential oil, it should be mixed with a carrier oil like olive oil or coconut oil before it is applied on the skin directly. This is because essential oils are very strong and have a powerful fragrance too. Only a few drops are needed for it to work as a mosquito-repellent.

Citronella oil has been declared safe for the skin and you will find a few products in the market as well. If you can’t find one, make your own natural mosquito-repellent at home and use it on your body regularly. The effect of the oil stays for an hour or two so make sure you reapply it. Even though it is safe to use, it is essential that pregnant women and infants use it only after consulting their doctors and paediatricians as their skin is very delicate and sensitive.

Cover your body to prevent a mosquito bite

full clothes

full clothes

Mosquitoes are likely to bite you when your skin is exposed. In order to prevent this, wear clothes that cover your body. Opt for long-sleeved tops or kurtas, wear full-length bottoms instead of shorts and even wear socks to protect your feet. If you are out on a trek or a camp, cover your face using a scarf.

Clothes are a natural way to prevent a mosquito bite. However, there is still some room for risk. And so, if you are going to be out for long hours, especially during the evening or night, you will need to take more measures. However, if it is just for a short while and there aren’t too many mosquitoes, you can use this method to prevent a mosquito bite.

Use mosquito-repellent creams and lotions

mosquito repellent

mosquito repellent

If you are not wearing clothes that cover your hands and legs, you need to ensure that you apply a mosquito-repellent cream or lotion on your body. These need to be applied on all the exposed areas as they have a strong odour that repels mosquitoes from coming close to your skin thereby preventing a bite. Also apply on your face and neck as they are always exposed.

However, if you are going out in the sun, and you apply sunscreen, apply the repellent on top of your sunscreen so that it effectively works. Most of these creams are strong enough to ward off mosquitoes however, reapply after a few hours especially in the evening as mosquitoes tend to be more in number at this hour.

Use sprays and liquid vaporizers indoors

mosquito spray

mosquito spray

While a mosquito net is a good idea for the night, you need to protect yourself at other times too. When at home, use mosquito-repellent sprays and liquid vaporizers that are easily available in the market. These work to keep mosquitoes at bay in small spaces. You can plug these in or spray in the room you are for protection.

Some sprays have a strong odour and if you are allergic to this smell, a liquid vaporizer is your best bet. Also ensure that no windows are open as that can make these less effective. If you spot too many mosquitoes, it is a good idea to also use a lotion along with these repellents.

Photographs: Shutterstock

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