This is a ‘special edition’ on my Belize blog. My kids are due to arrive shortly, so I asked on the Facebook forum for advice.
What should I have in my emergency kit?
Of course the usual – bandaid, gauze, antiseptic cream – your general first aid kit. BUT there is more that should not be missing!
Big problem with new arrivals with the soft, untanned, yummy tasting flesh are the sand flies!
I brought along a ‘tropic strength’ insect repellent when I came. Well, yeah … these sand flies obviously can’t read. One evening during sunset I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. My legs were covered in bites. And they ITCH like HELL !!! For a looooong time – a VERY long time! So my advice is to really take precautions in the first few weeks. Once you have this leather skin, they leave you alone (I was told).
Right now I am using a product called ‘OFF! DEEP WOODS’ by S.C. Johnson & Son. It contains 25% DEET. I am not sure if I want to put that on my skin on a long term base. But for now, anything is better than a week of itching!
Vicks VapoRub is another recommendation (but not tested by myself) to repel Doctor flies & mosquitos and relieves bites of any kind.
Coconut or Baby Oil – if you don’t mind sand sticking to your skin after a walk along the beach. Tried it, but I felt so sticky.
Avon Skin So Soft Insect Repellent – we have very contradicting information here. Some say it works, others say it doesn’t. I usually have a shower before I go to bed and have used the lotion afterwards. The lotion does have a nice feel to it and I am sure my sunbaked skin can use a bit of hydration. So far I have not been bitten during the night – but that might be due to the ceiling fan running all night.
Garlic – either eaten or mixed with beeswax and petroleum jelly as a body rub. I use grandma as a guinea pig – she loves garlic 😉
Vitamin B …hmmmm.. Again, some say it works, others say it doesn’t. That leaves me with the conclusion that every person is different. My kids will take a Vitamin B complex for 10 days before arriving. It can’t hurt.
Let’s move on how to treat once you got bitten.
DO NOT SCRATCH – DO NOT RUB !!!
Sand flies – If I am at home, I quickly get my hairdryer and blow hot air for as long as I can onto the area. For good measure, I rub Benadryl cream on. And I have to say, the bites just disappear within the hour. No itching, no swelling. Just a red dot that can be forgotten.
Some people recommended to place a hot spoon on the bite. I have not tried that .. YET!
Benadryl is apparently also good for scorpion bites!
Someone else recommended WD40 for bites (from fire ants) – others say WD40 is toxic – take a pick 🙂
Aloe Vera – cut a piece of the plant and rub it onto stings or sunburn. Apparently it will also repel insects.
Baking soda and water for bites. Make a paste and let it sit.
Someone else suggested Bentonite clay.
Apple cider vinegar works great for bites also…….especially fire ant bites. You should have a small spray bottle handy at the beach incase someone get’s stung by jellyfish. Pee is supposed to work too – especially when you don’t have vinegar close by. Ladies will have a problem aiming at the right spot though 😉
Another tip: Get the green colored alcohol. Has wintergreen in it. Great for mosquito bites and sand fly bites. The wintergreen opens the pores and alcohol does its thing. No itch. Old San Pedrano remedy.
Many swear by Hemp Oil
And someone else wrote: “Having been stung by a scorpion three different times I recommend meat tenderizer. Make a paste with little water and the spice powder and place on and around sting. It will prevent the fire like pain from going through your body from the site of the sting.”
NO, not THIS meat tenderizer!!!
What to do if you DID scratch?
Well, if the bite is infected, swelling up and turning into a big red blotch, it’s time to treat it from the ‘inside’. Take an anti-histamine tablet.
And to help the itch use a cortisone cream.
To protect from sunburn is just as important. For the first days I strongly recommend using the highest possible SP factor you can get. Apply it regularly – especially after swimming!
If you plan to go snorkeling, bring some UV resistant clothes. Your shoulders (and your bottom) will be burnt in no time. Sitting in a boat, ensure that your knees are covered! A hat doesn’t just protect you from sunburn, but also keeps your head cool. Do NOT wear a wet hat – heatstroke can be caused this way (happened to me when I was a kid).
I personally do not like to apply sunscreen when swimming around a reef. The oil will get into the water. Multiply this by a few thousand tourists every day and you can imagine what impact that will have on marine life.
Do not touch corals (or any other creatures). Attend a guided tour – it’s worth it! Your tour guides can explain who is who in the zoo …ahem … ocean I mean 🙂
Okay, you did get sunburnt after all – what now?
Aloe plant – not just good for stings, also helps with sunburn!
Rice vinegar or white vinegar for sunburn. Dab it all over sunburn. Takes away the sting and keeps from peeling.
This turned into a real long post 😉 Let my guinea pigs arrive and I will update this post with more info – what really helped my family.
Please feel free to comment and share your experience with all of us!
Let’s enjoy the sunshine! <pfffft pffffft – sound of the insect repellent>