Getting mosquito bites when pregnant can be annoying, particularly when your skin might be feeling extra sensitive.
It’s hard to resist scratching those itchy red bumps.
And when you’re expecting, you’re actually more attractive to mosquitoes than usual. Research has found that pregnant women are twice as likely to get bitten by these pesky blood-sucking bugs than women who aren’t pregnant.
But does getting mosquito bites while pregnant pose any risk to your pregnancy? And can pregnant women use bug spray to protect against mosquitoes?
We’ve got the answers here.
Can mosquito bites harm my unborn baby?
Yes, mosquito bites can potentially be harmful.
But if you’re in the US and just got a bug bite in your backyard, you don’t have to be too worried. Many mosquito-borne illnesses are rare in the continental US.
The main time you have to worry about mosquito bites is when traveling to regions where mosquito-borne illnesses are more common, including sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and India.
Seek travel health advice from your healthcare provider before you leave, and take special care to protect yourself from mosquito bites as much as possible while you’re away.
Some mosquito-borne illnesses include: Zika virus, malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, yellow fever, and chikungunya.
If you get bitten and become infected, some of these illnesses can pass to your unborn baby, which may have serious consequences.
For example, malaria can lead to a higher risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. It may also make it more likely that you’ll become anemic during your pregnancy.
The Zika virus can cause a condition in babies called microcephaly where they are born with a head that is significantly smaller than usual. It can also lead to problems with vision and hearing, joint issues, and seizures.
If you’ve recently returned from a region where mosquitoes are known to carry illnesses, let your healthcare provider know. They may want to carry out tests and monitor your pregnancy more closely.
How to protect against mosquito bites when pregnant
1. Use a bug spray that is safe for pregnancy.
It’s easy to find a safe mosquito repellent for pregnant women. Just look for EPA-registered products that contain one of the following active ingredients:
- PMD (Para-menthane-diol)
- 2-undecanone or BioUD
When applied to your skin, these are all effective at repelling mosquitoes for a number of hours, though the length of time you’ll be protected varies from product to product.
2. Wear protective clothing
Aim to wear lightweight, loose clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.
This should help keep you cool while protecting your skin from bites. Light-colored clothes are also better than dark, brightly colored, or floral-patterned clothes, which are more likely to attract mosquitoes.
You could also wear clothing treated with the chemical permethrin, which actually kills mosquitoes if they land on the fabric.
3. Avoid floral perfumes.
A strong floral scent will make it easier for mosquitoes to detect you, so you can try using only unscented personal care products. Or try fragrances thought to repel bugs, such as citronella.
4. Mosquito-proof your home.
To avoid being bitten while you’re at home, you can:
- Install screens on your doors and windows, making sure there are no holes or gaps.
- Use a mosquito net over your bed for extra protection.
- Regularly remove and replace any standing water where mosquitoes like to lay their eggs, such as kiddie pools and birdbaths.
5. Be safe in the great outdoors
If you go camping, you can treat your tent with permethrin and use a mosquito net at night.
And when you’re hiking or taking part in any other outdoor activities, you could wear a hat and head net to protect your face and neck.
Stay safe, mama!
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