Creepy CrawliesSince I've been the object of many insects' desire, I have acquired over 45 love-bites from sand flies and mosquitoes alike. 45 and counting. This morning, I woke up with 4 love-bites on my cheek. I'm flattered, but this has got to stop!
I've adopted a new Grenadian "uniform" that I wear 24/7 - leggings. Thanks to my new friend, Che, she has given me her leggings to wear as a second skin. Despite the 40C temperatures here, I'm not allowing creepy crawlies easy access to my legs and arms. Paranoid that I will get new bites, I also shamelessly wear wool socks over my leggings, with Birkenstocks - as I've only thong sandals, and nothing else. Thanks to my other teammie, Rhonda for the socks. I only don this outfit when we go for dinner, as many restaurants feature open air patios. From the knees down, I'm a walking fashion faux pas.
My entire team, and people in Grenada have all been so attentive to my bites. Even the director or the CTF has emailed me personally offering suggestions. After extensive research in my ample free-time, (which I now have a lot of since I often opt to stay in my air conditioned room), and recommendations made by friends and colleagues, I learned these bug-bite fighting tips:
1. There isn't much you can do about prevention
2. Carbolic Soap. Available only in the Caribbean, this soap made of coal tar has disinfectant properties to minimize itching and sooth irritated skin
3. Fucidin H Cream. Topical antibiotic corticosteroid
4. Topicort. Hydrocortizone cream
5. Vitamin B. Apparently it helps ward off mosquitoes (Thanks team for picking this up for me!)
6. After Bite & Benadryl Itch Relief
7. Ice swollen and severely itchy bites
8. Soak and bathe irritated, bitten skin in a saline & baking soda solution
9. Massage isopropyl alcohol 70%. This helps to reduce reddish-purplish marks
10. Minimize scarring with cocoa fat as a moisturizer
11. DEET 30% does not work against sand flies and most mosquitoes in Grenada
12. Arawak Island Citronella & Eucalyptus oil is a good, natural repellent
13. Keep covered. Long sleeves, leggings & socks
14. Mosquito nets don't always work, as you could be bitten at any time of day
15. Benadryl or any other anti-histamine to fight the allergic reaction, Advil liquid gels for the pain
I also avoid rain forests & other lush areas. When my team had an excursion to hike a rain forest to see the Seven Falls, I chose to stay home. When we had the island tour, which involved a mini hike into the rain forest, I stayed in the car & played Triple Town on the iPad.
And there you have it, my exhaustive list of things I've learned to prevent & treat sand flies and mosquito bites. Sand fly bites are definitely more severe than mosquito bites, as they leave welts and a wide circumference of pooled blood around the welt.