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How I Cured Myself of Mosquito Bites Forever

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I have always been the girl who gets the most mosquito bites.

 

I remember as a kid spending the summer in New Jersey and my Mother had putting me in a cornmeal bath because I itched so badly after playing outside on a muggy night. Another time as a teenager I went camping with my Dad and gave myself scars because I scratched my bites until they bled. As an adult I had friends over for a BBQ and that night rubbed the bites on my feet only to wake the next morning so swollen I had trouble walking.

 

Puerto Viejo

 

When I started traveling it only got worse.

 

I recall one evening watching the sunset in Mexico and returning to find over forty swollen insect bites just on one leg. On a trip to Costa Rica I scratched my bites so badly that I developed pus filled blisters all over my legs. The doctor determined it was MRSA. A serious form of staph infection.

 

Dealing with mosquitoes became the bane of my existence each time I traveled to a tropical destination. The natural stuff, the Picardin, the Deet, it didn’t matter what I used. I always got massacred.

 

Playa Chiquita

 

Yet here I am today, writing to you from the South Caribbean, laying on my bed without a mosquito net or insect repellent, with smooth bite free skin. This last year I traveled through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Panama, and Costa Rica with very little itching or scratching.

 

I no longer struggle with the unbearable mosquito bites that once plagued me, and it has genuinely changed my life.

 

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So how did I do it?

 

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I Made Peace with Mosquitoes

 

A year and a half ago, while taking a few months off of traveling to settle down in Puerto Viejo Talamanca, I decided to join some of the women in the community for a sweat lodge. I imagined something close to a sauna or a spa. If you’ve ever done a sweat lodge, also known as a Temescal, you know that the experience is far from a day at the spa. It is an intense and deeply spiritual journey that I plan to write about in a future post. I bring it up now because it marked the beginning of my liberation from mosquito bites.

 

Crouched in the dirt, half naked, sweating more than I have ever sweat in my life, in complete darkness, chanting with a group of women, the most challenging part of my experience was the itching. From the moment I entered the sweat lodge I was swarmed by mosquitoes who bit me so badly I begged for more heat to keep them at bay. Worse than the itching my mind went wild from the discomfort. Until a calming thought rushed over me. “Maybe I need to make peace with the mosquitoes. Maybe I need to love the mosquitoes.” I thought. “Yes, I love the mosquitoes. I love the mosquitoes.” It feels ridiculous saying this now, but in that moment of complete surrender I decided to free myself of my hatred towards mosquitoes. Perhaps by making peace with them they’d no longer need to teach me a lesson.

 

I’m not necessarily suggesting you get inside of a tent in the jungle and sweat with a bunch of naked women, though if you get the chance a Temescal is an incredible life changing experience I highly recommend. What I’m proposing here is simply that most change begins with first deciding to rewrite your story. That evening in the sweat lodge I decided that I didn’t have to be enemies with mosquitoes and I didn’t have to be the girl who was always plagued by them. From there, I took the first step.

 

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I Stopped Scratching

 

The surest way to torment yourself is to scratch your insect bites. It’s like sleeping with an ex. You want to do it so badly that when you give in and scratch the itch it feels so good; but you ultimately end up with a bigger wound that takes even longer to heal.

 

After I vowed to start loving mosquitoes, I dedicated myself to not scratching my bites. It was hard. Extremely hard. So I made it my meditation. I focused on my breathing and considered it another challenge to find peace and comfort in an uncomfortable situation.

 

I noticed that if I didn’t scratch them right away the swelling went down and the itch subsided. I also discovered some better ways to handle the itch. I used all natural itch balms, honey, and if I had nothing else I noticed my own spit worked. A lot of people in Costa Rica swear by using their fingernail to make an “x” over the bite. I’ve found this effective, just be sure not to press so hard that you break the skin.

 

Whatever you do, don’t scratch your bites. It takes some willpower, but if you leave them alone, they will go away, I promise.

 

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I Did a Coconut Water Fast

 

Relatively speaking I’ve always eaten pretty healthy. Even as a kid I loved vegetables and would rather eat an enormous salad than a piece of cake. However in my pre travel lifestyle I dined in trendy restaurants often and when I started traveling I indulged in plenty of strange street food. I also went through a brief phase where I was partying. A lot.

 

So soon after my sweat lodge experience I decided to get serious about my health. I switched to eating mostly organic, I stopped drinking, I removed all refined foods from my diet, I upped my intake of dark leafy greens, and I started doing some cleanses. The one I believe has kept the mosquitoes at bay was my coconut water fast.

 

During the coconut water fast I ingested only coconut water, purified water, and tea for several days. Allegedly in doing so you flush so much coconut water into your bloodstream that it’s essentially like doing a full blood cleanse.

 

I’ve been told that the reaction your skin has to a bite indicates the cleanliness of your blood. I can’t verify this statement but I will say that I noticed a significant decrease in mosquito bites after doing the fast and I now experience very little reaction to bites.

 

Coconut water also has Vitamin B, which mosquitoes hate. This could explain why drinking a lot of it deters mosquitoes. Whenever I’m in a tropical place I always drink at least one local young coconut per day, if not three. I drink them because they’re delicious, but if they also keep me from getting bitten? Perfect.

 

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I Took Probiotics

 

Those white pills? They’ve never really done much for me. Not to mention the fact that they can get extremely expensive. The kind of probiotics I’m referring to are the ones that I’ve made myself in fermented foods.

 

To cure myself of the travel sickness that I endured again and again on the road I began to eat fermented foods daily to proliferate the healthy bacteria in my system. Doing so improved my immune system and my digestion incredibly and I have a sneaking suspicion that they’ve protected me against mosquitoes as well.

 

I drink water kefir daily because I find it’s the simplest, easiest fermented product to make while traveling. Most people I meet can hardly stand to smell the liquid when I open the jar, which leads me to believe a mosquito would not want to bite skin that leaches it.

 

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I Covered My Skin in Coconut Oil

 

Insects are attracted to scents and some are much more desirable than others. The same way citronella keeps them away many of the sweet scented commercial beauty products likely attract them. For convenience and health reasons I’ve transitioned away from conventional skin products and now use coconut oil exclusively as my skin moisturizer.

 

In many tropical islands locals swear by coconut oil to combat sand fleas. The tiny bugs are either unable to land on your skin or they drown while trying to bite. I’ve found that when I use coconut oil mosquitoes either seem less interested in biting me or they can’t seem to land on me in the first place.

 

For even more protection you can mix coconut oil with different essential oils intended to keep away insects including lemongrass, citronella, lavender, and tea tree. I’m a strong believer in the many healing benefits of coconut for just about everything. Read my post What to do With a Coconut for more info.

 

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So there you have it, the things I changed over the last year and a half that have led me to mosquito liberation. Yes, I still occasionally get bites, and they still itch sometimes. However I went from someone who once would be covered head to toe in big swollen bites to someone who rarely has any.

 

Please keep in mind, I’m not a medical professional or a nutritionist. These are simply my experiences. I hope you find them helpful, and please feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

 

 


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Comments

  1. Well it’s good they aren’t biting you as much because have you heard of chikumungunya virus that’s all over the Americas and Caribbean now? It’s a real threat at this point…just one infected mosquito is all it takes so it’s worth taking seriously.

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 21, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      Eek, haven’t heard of this virus before.

    • Madalyn Says: July 13, 2015 at 7:39 am

      Yes! Chickengunya is down here in the Caribbean. I live in the USVI and it was a serious thing down here… Luckily I am not prone to bites and I also eat mostly organic and coconut oil is my favorite, so maybe that’s why I’ve been so luck! :)

  2. Thank you for sharing!! I will be in Puerto Viejo at the end of February and have been researching how to prevent the mosquito bites. I hope you will be in town then I would love to take one of your yoga classes or 5 :o). Since I found you I have been following your posts.

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 21, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      Thanks so much dear :) I don’t think I will be here in February sadly but todo es posible 😉 Pura vida and I hope the buggies leave you alone!

  3. Barbara Willemain Says: November 21, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Check out these articles! — Very interesting:

    1) “Why some people are mosquito magnets”
    http://www.nbcnews.com/health/body-odd/why-some-people-are-mosquito-magnets-f1C6437380
    And note one of the last points made : “The more times you get bitten by a particular species of mosquito, the less most people react to that species over time.” So maybe that’s also helping make it more tolerable for you.

    2) Personally, I still believe some of the banana theories: http://www.mosquitoreviews.com/bananas.html

    3) And last but not least, here’s a great article on treating the bites: http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-a-Mosquito-Bite
    Tea tree oil, banana peels, nail polish, vinegar, pineapple, papaya,…
    And Part 4 of that article is a section on great home recipes for make effective mosquito repellants.

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 21, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      Thanks Barbie! I considered #1 except that when I went all through Southeast Asia I didn’t have problems with mosquitoes there either. I will def have to check out these other links, tea tree oil is something I always travel with.

  4. That is interesting because I have an all natural wound healer,( heals every boo boo but a broken heart) Boo Boo Serum, and the main ingredient I infuse the natural herbs into is a fractionated coconut oil. I’ve had many reviews on how it stopped the itching.

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 21, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      Interesting! I will have to check out this “boo boo serum.” Is there anything that coconut can’t do?! I think not :)

  5. This is so good to read..I grew up on the prairies in Canada where mosquitos are massive and vicious (now living on the West Coast where they are tiny and wimpy and fly so slow)

    Summer for most in Manitoba were full of scratchy awful infected legs. I drank a ton of lemon water (lemons + water) and always eat lots of garlic and it seems to keep them completely at bay..plus i dont even have to wear perfume (garlic takes care of that!!)

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 21, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      Nice thanks Shalyn. That’s something else I do, drink lime water in the morning. I hear that they’re less likely to bite you if you have an alkaline body.

  6. Wonderful tips – whenever I visited my boyfriend’s family outside of Bangkok I got completely eaten alive…will try some of these in the future.

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 21, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Honestly if I had to say it was just one, it would probably be the coconut water fast that did it… 😉

  7. Haha! Interesting story and I like the coconut water theory. I love coconut water and am glad for the excuse to drink it everyday now!! =D

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 23, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      There are soooo many reasons to drink it everyday! So many electrolytes, Vitamin B, it’s antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and ya it tastes really really good! 😉

  8. Hi Camille! Big fan of your blog over here. I too am a HUGE believer in the healing powers of the coconut. My sister recently dealt with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy and radiation therapy, and after rubbing coconut oil on her skin everyday, she has very minimal scarring, which is amazing due to the severity and intensity of her procedures. I also slather on coconut oil every day and after dealing with some difficult dermatological issues, my skin is smooth and clear :) Currently traveling through Southeast Asia now, I have had virtually no problems with mosquitos despite my blatant disregard for DEET. Nature has all of the answers we need :) Wonderful stuff, I’m so glad it worked for you and I enjoy knowing that I have a coconut-loving kindred spirit!

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience! I hope your sister is doing well in her journey towards recovery and it’s nice to hear that coconut oil has yet another amazing use :) <3

  9. I love avocado, aloe vera and coconuts! The three best foods / body products in the world, in pure form.

    Making peace with something is the best way to “overcome” it, although I would say “understand” instead. To “understand” or stand under something means to know the foundation or the very roots. In yogic traditions (I don’t mean modern yoga, but the Yoga Sutra kind) this means to release the samskara/cycle of repetition by knowing its roots/origin. And after all, this is the very intent of yoga (to cite the best text ever, the Yoga Sutras): (1) NOW the teachings of yoga. (2) Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness.

    Or something to that extent, this is just off the top of my head but someone can google it for more info / clarity :-)

    To make peace with something is to stop fighting it and to embrace it and to understand it. This is the key to healing.

    It’s SO refreshing to have found your blog! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas (I’m looking at doing a sweat lodge retreat soon, for the first time!)

    • Camille Willemain Says: December 2, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      Yes absolutely!! So often we talk about “letting go” in terms of rejecting something. Of casting it out. When in fact the true way to let go is in accepting something and then transmuting it into something greater. Atha yoga nusha sanam :)

  10. Vitamin B1 (tiamina) I’m sure you can find it in any farmacia in Limon. One pill a day for a couple of months and the mosquitoes won’t even get close to you. Side effects….you will smell to tiamina.

  11. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve had a horrid time with an allergy to the bites. I lived in costa rica for three months and even though I’d been there twice previously without a reaction to the bites, I got a very severe reaction. By the second night I had around 10 very bad welts on each leg and even though I was consciously trying not to itch, they all pussed up and leaked and it went on the whole time I was there. Since we’re moving there this year (!) making peace with them has had to be an option, as I’m not going to be able to live a happy life there with my husband and children otherwise. I’ve started on the vitamin b complex capsules already and will be sure to make more use of the coconut oil when I’m there. Near the end of our last 3 week visit there last year I realised that citronella worked well for me – not 100% but kept more of them away. SO after reading this I’m gonna mix some of it in with the coconut to use every day. I have always adored drinking coconut water over there and used to have at least one a day too…. but now I have an excuse to make a trip to the coconut cart and stock up daily. (I feel like drinking a coconut is how it must feel for a baby drinking breastmilk!! Just RIGHT). I used to drink milk kefir but will look into the water kefir now so that I can hopefully prepare some over there. Thanks again, and happy travels.

    • Camille Willemain Says: May 25, 2015 at 10:12 pm

      Yes it sounds like you are planning on doing all of the right things!! Keep with it and let me know how it goes :)

  12. My husband is a mosquito magnet just like you were! He’s down with the “don’t scrath” part, but we’ve never tried a coconut water fast, or using coconut oil for repellant. Since we’re in a housesit in Mexico with plenty of coconuts around, we’ve got a chance to try!
    At the very least it’s a great excuse to up our consumption of coconut water. :)

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 28, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      Totally! Let me know how it goes :) It could also be all of the probiotics I consume too! I’ll be writing a post about that soon.

  13. One of my friends and I went to Belize a couple of years ago. Her dr told her to take Vitamin B for 2 weeks before her trip which she did. I did not but I will next time. She was not bothered or biten and I was biten the entire time. Lesson learned the hard, itchy way!!

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 28, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Yes! Vitamin B is key, and I think a big reason why consuming lots of coconut water helps. There’s also these patches called Please Don’t Bite Me that put lots of Vitamin B into your system to help against bites.

  14. I get bitten all the time as well. Currently I live in Ghana which has lots of mosquitoes and malaria ones in particular, so I have to be super careful. If I do get bitten I usually start itching immediately, but when I rub a little bit of Tiger Balm on it, it stops itching immediately. I always have a small tub with me. Have you tried it?

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 29, 2015 at 9:23 am

      Eek! Yes tiger balm was basically the remedy for everything when I was in Southeast Asia lol!

  15. Wow, this is really interesting! Making peace with mosquitoes has never crossed my mind as I do hate them. They are one of the few bugs I will kill without a second thought. Maybe I should try a little mosquito love instead!

    • Camille Willemain Says: July 21, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Most def! Think about it, all animals and insects and plants carry medicine. If you don’t want to get bit by the bug, let its medicine heal you and move on 😉

  16. thank you so much for sharing! I completely resonate with you, I am always the girl who gets massacred by bugs while any of my friends don’t get one bite, a common thought for me was always, why me? so I appreciate your response to loving the mosquitos and accepting them, I have over forty bites now, so today I’m focusing on meditations of acceptance and love. and coconut water fasting, yum! thanks so much!

    • Camille Willemain Says: July 22, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      You’re welcome!! Get some nice essential oils to make the bites more tolerable and keep them from getting infected for now xx

  17. Ever since I moved to Martinique this has been an issue!!! But the number of bites has been decreasing, probably because my diet has already drastically changed. I will be introducing a lot of coconut water into my diet as well! I can’t seem to find lavender and I can’t stand the smell of citronelle but I’m going to look into getting some vitamin B pills! Cheers!

  18. Great tip thank-you!

  19. Philip Bell Says: April 8, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    I also fell in love with the adorable little blood suckers.. They are For life. And I am too! . Id feed on me too.. I’m tasty!

    Thanks for the mirror sweet girl :)

  20. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Real holistic advice to keep mosquitos away that isn’t just “use DEET” and “cover up” which just aren’t enough in Costa Rica. Thanks so much Camille!

  21. Roxanne Says: June 4, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    My husband and I now Live in Costa Rica, he is plagued with mosquitoes, he drinks beer and a lot of it. He gets shots monthly of vitamin B and another one… lotions like you mentioned and bug off a natural product and the oils are sticky and he won’t use them… Do you have to really QUITE drinking alcohol and only do coconut water and use coconut oil?

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 5, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      Hey Rozanne my top recommendation is to cleanse from the inside out to keep the mosquitoes at bay…

  22. Tranicia Says: June 21, 2016 at 6:56 am

    Great article! I rub eucalyptus oil on mosquito bites and within minutes the bite goes away along with the itch.

  23. […] by This American Girl blogger Camille, who cured herself of mosquitos through a combination of mindfulness, clean eating, and coconut oil. Coating your skin with coconut oil is a well-known local secret in Costa Rica for keeping biters […]

  24. I read your story. I say Bull S$@t!
    Maybe that wprked for you but being from tbe deep south I kno better. Clean blood!? For 56 years? Uh no way… glad you found a remedy!

  25. You fuckin spititual shit bag.. this shit did not help fuck you… for wasting my god damn time change the fuckin title of this post … make piece with these nuts you fuckin hippie

    • Camille Willemain Says: September 14, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Sooo interesting and awakening. Thank you. May all beings everywhere honor the preciousness of their words and believe in the infinite possibilities of their own sovereignty.

  26. As someone who is covered in ugly infected bites this is amazing! I know about the scratching but i never really put my mind to it. And the thing is coconuts is a tip i happily try- thanks!

  27. Am I the only one who scratches there mosquito bites?

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 8, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      I used to scratch them HORRIBLY but once I started to use the itch as a meditation it really really helped. Now I barely scratch if I get them, and they go away in a few hours.

  28. Thanks for sharing your story, I deeply relate! I swear by coconut oil too. I’ve read that it is also Protects the skin from the sun. I live in CR, and while I believe I have developed more immunity to mosquitos (very similar to your story), i find the ants and chigras i think they call them around here are the worst culprits. I find that if I put a dab of a baking soda water mixture on the bit as soon as I can that it really helps with the swelling and itching, and can even stop the bite from forming a bump! Thanks again! There is hope from the insanely maddening itch!

    • Camille Willemain Says: February 2, 2017 at 6:54 am

      Thanks so much for the tip. I agree about the sand fleas! Coconut oil really helps keep them away for me.