From the moment we arrived on the continent, I discovered I had a new admirer on my travels. He loved me! I tried my hardest to discourage his ardour, but I still couldn’t shake him off!
The Mosquito; I had a terrible reaction to his attention, and he caused me the biggest drama of my trip so far.
I had been getting bitten a LOT but, although they were swollen, annoying and itchy as hell, they always eventually simmered down to be covered by a new one.
What Not to Do With Mosquitoes in Italy
Towards the end of my time Road Tripping in Sicily, I developed a couple of bites that turned ugly. They became very inflamed and swollen, and then they went into awful blisters that burst and become raw and open wounds.
Me being me, I didn’t want to make a fuss, and I assumed they would clear up if I kept them clean and covered. My Mum had given me some Germoline New Skin which acts as an antiseptic plaster for hacks on fingers etc. In my wisdom, I decided this would be perfect for helping to heal the nasty wounds. This was NOT a good idea.
I applied the alcoholic concoction to my now festering, deep, open wounds. I tried not to pass out from the pain, and then I continued with my day. This went on for a few days, all the while, the wounds were getting deeper.
By the time I got back to mainland Italy they were agony, and I was beginning to feel generally unwell and lethargic. When I asked my host where I could find a local pharmacy for some alternatives remedies, she went bonkers when she saw the wounds. She insisted on calling the pharmacy herself to explain the issue.
Don’t Delay in Seeing a Doctor if you Think the Mosquito Bites Have Become Infected
When I arrived at the pharmacy the two, very lovely, pharmacists went into dramatic action. They both insisted on thoroughly examining the bites and looking things up on the Internet. Their English was limited, and my Italian was almost non-existent at that point, so we were starting to struggle. At this point, another local came in who turned out to be a pharmacist at another nearby shop and he spoke perfect English – what are the chances!
So now I had three pharmacists peering over my festering sores and a queue of local Italians watching on in fascination, or maybe disgust.
After much discussion, translation and photo taking, they suggested that they could be poisonous spider bites. They said they had never seen any bites as bad as this (cue me, for the first time starting to get a bit worried). They spoke to a local Doctor on the phone, and it was agreed that I would visit the surgery that evening.
It turned out that my bites had become infected, it was systemic, a version of Impetigo, and I needed a strong course of oral and topical antibiotics. I got into trouble for leaving it so long and was told I was lucky I hadn’t developed Sepsis. Fortunately, I only have a few scars instead.
Lesson learnt that saying “It’s fine” is not always the best course of action.
I want to shout out to some people. To Allessandra, my host at Villa Baranzola in Montevarchi. She was so helpful. To my nurse friends who saw the photos on Facebook and sensibly suggested the bites looked infected and to get them checked out. To all three pharmacists who were so patient and concerned, and to the wonderful Doctor who saw me at short notice and got me sorted out properly!
If you are in a mozzy heavy area, don’t forget to bring some strong repellent and keep covered up as much as possible. Don’t be a dingus and ignore it if the bites turn bad!
Some Quick Facts About Mosquitoes in Italy
The Italian word for Mosquito is ‘Zanzara’. Here are some general facts and tips to help you cope with Mosquitoes in Italy as effectively as possible.
Where Do You Find Mosquitoes in Italy?
Unfortunately, they are found in most parts of Italy at certain times of the year. One of the many reasons I love living in Courmayeur in the Italian Alps is that they are rare at altitude. Above 2000 meters they are pretty much unheard of. So head for the mountains if you are looking to escape them.
When is Mosquito Season in Italy?
There isn’t a set time for Mosquito season, a lot of it depends on how mild a winter the country and regions experience.
Usually, by November things will have settled down and they won’t reappear until March the next year. If things are exceptionally mild though, don’t be surprised to be attacked by them outwith these months.
What Are the Most Effective Mosquito Preventatives?
Products containing the chemical DEET are proven to be effective repellents for mosquitoes. Autan is a widely available insect repellent containing DEET in Italy. Ensure you follow the application instructions carefully and, providing you do not have a reaction, this is perfectly safe to use for adults and children.
Some people do not want to use stronger chemicals like DEET, but there are no other products proven to be as effective. I tried Avon Skin So Soft and Mosquito Bands etc., none of them worked like the DEET products did.
Citronella can act as a repellent, but it is not as strong and has to be reapplied more often. Picardin is another chemical that is proven to be an effective repellent, so if there is no DEET products available, this is a good alternative option.
Some people recommend eating garlic or taking vitamin B supplements, amongst other things, but there is no evidence to support their being effective.
What Else Can You Do To Prevent Getting Bitten By Mosquitoes?
Make sure that you cover up well, particularly at dawn and dusk. Light-coloured clothing may not be as attractive to mozzies, and if they are loose, this can help too. Avoid strongly scented fragrances and deodorants; these could prove to be an attractant to the little blighters.
Try to stay in accommodation that has mosquito screens on the doors and windows. If they don’t have screens, try not to leave them open, especially at night. The light will attract them. You may even want to invest in a mosquito net for using on your bed, just make sure that it is well sealed.
What Are the Best Things to Provide Some Relief From Mosquito Bites?
Try not to scratch any mosquito bites that you are unfortunate enough to gain. This can increase the chance of getting a nasty infection.
Antihistamines can help to relieve the itching, but bear in mind they can be pricey in Italy. Using hydrocortisone cream can also help soothe the area that has been bitten.
If you don’t have anything like this available, then you can use a little toothpaste or bicarbonate of soda to give some short term relief.