Ghana is a great place to visit and live in, with incredible tourist sites and incredible places to visit. However, you must be aware that malaria exists here and knowing how to protect yourself from it is always helpful. In case you are not aware, the malaria carriers are the female mosquitos (Anopheles mosquitoes). They require blood every three to four days in order to produce eggs and they are the most common mosquito bites in Ghana.
Fighting mosquito bites in Ghana with DEET
You may already know that for years and years, the biggest go-to method (and most probably the one you would be recommended in your country) used against mosquito bites in countries with malaria is the DEET spray. Why DEET? It has been said that DEET spray has the longest lasting effect in the fight against mosquitos.
However, it has also been found that the use of DEET also may cause many side effects, plus if you plan to live in Ghana for at least a couple of years, we don’t think you will always remember to use DEET spray, apart from the fact that mosquito sprays with DEET are more expensive than the ones without.
On a different note, DEET repellents are not recommended for use on kids under two months and on children below the age of 12, are recommended to be applied sparingly.
Some of the side-effects of DEET include:
- Skin irritation
If you are a person who is more conscious about the environment as well as your own health, you may probably want to try and find products or remedies made from natural medicinal plants. Also specially if you have a new born baby or children under 12.
Natural ways to prevent mosquito bites in Ghana
While catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a common herb that is often used on cats —due to its euphoric and hallucinogenic effects on our domesticated felines—it has also long been known for its powerful repellent action on insects, and mosquitoes in particular.
Its active ingredient, Nepetalactone, activates the irritant receptor TRPA1, making it ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. It can protect you for up to seven hours. Give it a try and let us know!
Citronella is approved as safe for humans and the environment and also as “minimum risk pesticide” in terms of its effect on human health.
It’s derived from cymbopogon, or more commonly known as lemongrass. Its oil can be applied directly on the skin or even used to create citronella candles which produce smoke and deter the mosquitos.
A little tip you can try is to combine lemongrass oil with another essential oil such as tea tree, it will create an even stronger repelling effect!
Lemon eucalyptus oil is distilled from the leaves and twigs of the lemon eucalyptus tree. The distilled product contains several botanical substances, including citronella and a very low and variable amount of PMD. A study, published in June 2014 in the journal Fitoterapia, was found to show that lemon eucalyptus essential oil provides 100% protection against mosquitoes, and it lasts for up to 12 hours.
An active ingredient in peppermint (p- Menthane-3, 8-diol) has been registered as a mosquito repellent since 2000. It’s refreshing and strong scent, with its cooling effect makes a great natural mosquito repellent. Not only is it great for repelling many different types of insects, but also soothing itchiness, reducing selling and treating the most painful of bites, such as those from fire ants (also very common in Ghana).
It’s also a very versatile oil, meaning you can mix it and blend it with other scents, such as lemon, and then apply them to your skin for a fresh, anti-mosquito scent. Keep in mind that peppermint oil is a hot oil that creates a hit effect and in turn can cause rash (not to everyone). You can prevent this by diluting the peppermint oil with a carrier oil like canola.
If you prefer your mosquito repellent in cream rather than spray, you should go for an IR3535 repellent. It’s a synthetic amino acid which carries no toxicity and provides up to eight hours of protection. The amino acid has an effect on a mosquito’s sense of smell and as a result, gives users an excellent repellent to rely on.
Other methods to stop mosquito bites
Artemisia is a plant originally from China. People across Asia have been using it for centuries to treat fevers and malaria. In Chinese medicine, it is known as “qinghao.” It is also called sweet wormwood or annual wormwood, and is used as an alternative therapy – and even put into some alcoholic drinks. The active ingredient found in the dried leaves of artemisia annua is called artemisinin.
Having a cup of artemisia tea once or twice a day, is said (but not scientifically approved) to prevent you from having malaria and even curing malaria. Some people who are not so prone to the malaria tablets due to its multiple side effects and who are looking for something more natural, opt for artemisia.
Mosquito coils are widely used in Ghana. Restaurants and local street food vendors use them quite often. You can get them from some stalls on the street (not all) but easier to get them from the mall directly.
Another widely used method by locals are the mosquito bed nets and nets on windows. The bed net may be a little uncomfortable at first, but it does really give protection against bites. Another very important tip is to remember to cover up property, especially when the sun starts to set (around 6-6:30pm) by wearing a long sleeve.
Malaria in the western world is seen as something very scary. However, the reality of it is like with any other illness. Make sure you are aware of the methods of protection and you will be completely fine!