IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers| IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers|

Insect Bite Prevention

Photo By: Subhrajit Chandra

Preventing insect bites

During your travels you may encounter all types of insects, some of which are harmless while others can carry disease. Mosquitoes, ticks, bees, wasps, hornets, blackflies, spiders, and ants may be mild annoyances, but one small bite can have serious implications on your health.

Practicing meticulous and consistent insect bite avoidance is one of the most important things travellers can do to prevent illness and spreading infectious diseases. Of the common arthropod-borne diseases encountered by travellers, only Malaria and Japanese Encephalitis can be prevented by medication and a vaccine, respectively.

Did you know?

Here are 3 things to consider: 

Learn about insect behaviour

First, find out if, and exactly where, illnesses transmitted by insects are occurring at your destination. You may discover that there is no outbreak in the area where you’re staying.

Second, learn about the insect’s behaviour. This will help you better understand whether your travel, destination and activities have an element of risk or not.

Use complementary methods

For optimal protection, use multiple methods of insect-bite prevention – mainly through skin protection, clothing protection, and proper use of a bed net.

Video courtesy of Anne Terry, ARNP, Hall Health Primary Care Center, University of Washington.

1. The following are physical barriers that you can use to prevent any insect from coming close to you in the first place.

2. Use chemical barriers like repellent and insecticide to prevent mosquito, tick, sandfly or blackfly bites.

A note on repellents and sunscreens

Myth busting

It’s important to use proven methods mentioned above, especially if you’re travelling to areas with risk of illnesses transmitted by insects. There is no evidence that the following products protect you against insect-borne illnesses.

How to treat insect bites and stings

More insect-avoidance tips


Travel health risk: ChikungunyaDengueJapanese EncephalitisMalariaWest Nile VirusZika Virus.


Travel health risk: Lyme DiseaseTick-borne EncephalitisTick-borne Spotted Fevers


Travel health risk: Leishmaniasis


Travel health risk: Chagas

Tsetse flies:

Travel health risk: Sleeping Sickness

Bed bugs

Last reviewed and updated: January 25, 2019

Travel Health Journal