Feeling a little itchy this summer? Then you may be one of the estimated 20 percent of people who are extra attractive to mosquitoes. The attraction can be temporary, based on the color of clothing you’re wearing, or a more long-term relationship because of blood type and genetics. Or the mosquitoes could be attracted to you for a completely different reason, your exercise habits.
Studies have shown that mosquitoes are attracted to sweat and body heat. What happens after exercising strenuously? You sweat and have a higher overall body temperature. Mosquitoes are able to detect heat, which makes anyone who has a higher body temperature than those around them a prime target for biting. Combining higher body temperature with the extra sweat you produce when exercising can turn you into an insect buffet. Sweating is how your body temperature is regulated, which helps cool you down during and after a workout. Unfortunately, even though your temperature may be dropping, the sweat you’re producing will still summon mosquitoes. They are attracted to certain chemicals in sweat, as well as lactic acid and carbon dioxide.
Strenuous exercise causes lactic acid buildup and higher carbon dioxide production. Both are substances that mosquitoes are able to sense from up to 100 feet away. Lactic acid builds up in muscles as you exercise, when the body needs to provide additional energy to its muscles. Carbon dioxide is produced as part of the normal breathing cycle, though some people may produce more than others. after people exercise, they tend to breathe heavier and more frequently which leads to more CO2 production. Doing some simple breathing exercises post-workout may help bring your CO2 production levels back to normal.
Sweat, heat, lactic acid and carbon dioxide are all unavoidable parts of exercising. What you can avoid, however, is being eaten alive by mosquitoes. If you are exercising outdoors, or are going to be outside for some time right after a workout, be sure to use a mosquito repellent that contains DEET at a 20-30 percent level. Repellents with a DEET level of 15 percent are recommended for children. Also, if the temperature allows, wear clothing that covers your skin. Avoid exercising in and around areas with standing water if you can, since they provide breeding grounds for the insects. To make yourself less appealing to mosquitoes, cool down and shower as soon after physical activity as possible. Returning your body temperature to normal and washing away excess sweat may lessen your chances of being bitten.