Mosquito bites might just be the most unpleasant part of the summer season \u2014 right up there with sunburn.\nAside from dotting your skin in red, itchy spots, mosquitos are the culprits behind some of the world\u2019s most notorious infectious diseases, including malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever, dengue fever, and Zika.\nPeter Veldkamp, MD, infectious disease physician at the UPMC Center for Care of Infectious Diseases, offers tips to help you keep bugs at bay \u2014 both at home and abroad.\nSpray it on. Insect repellent is the best way to stave off mosquito bites. Click To Tweet\n\nThe Importance of Mosquito Repellent\nInsect repellent is the best way to stave off mosquito bites (and, yes, these repellents are safe for use). Repellents that contain a higher percentage of active ingredients offer the highest levels of protection.\n\nDEET\u00a0(or diethyltoluamide) is the most common active ingredient in bug sprays. Developed in 1944 by the United States Department of Agriculture, DEET helps repel a variety of biting insects, from mosquitos to fleas to chiggers. The drawback? This popular ingredient can give off a distinctive odor.\nPicaridin\u00a0is an odorless, non-greasy insect repellent. This synthetic compound was developed by a pharmaceutical company in the 1980s and has been approved for use in the United States since 2005.\n\nYou should only use repellents approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. These substances are proven safe, even for children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The exception? Insect repellent should not be used on infants younger than 2 months.\nOnly use bug sprays approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as they are proven safe. Click To Tweet\nAlways follow instructions when applying insect repellents \u2014 and don\u2019t forget to carry a bottle with you throughout\u00a0the day. If you\u2019re wearing sunscreen,\u00a0always apply sunscreen first\u00a0and\u00a0bug spray second\u00a0to ensure the effectiveness of these products.\nBeyond Bug Spray: How to Prevent Mosquito Bites\nCover Up for Mosquito Protection\nIf weather permits, long-sleeve shirts, pants, and socks can help keep mosquitos at bay. Keep in mind, mosquitos may be able to bite through thin fabrics.\nFor an extra layer of mosquito protection, you can use a substance called permethrin to treat your clothing and gear \u2014 but do not apply this product directly to your skin or to bed nets.\nHead Inside\nWhen in doubt, stay inside. Turn up the A\/C and close windows and doors, if you can. In some locales, it may be necessary to sleep beneath a mosquito net.\nMosquito netting is simply a fine mesh that blocks mosquitos from penetrating, without hindering your vision or air flow. Many mosquito nets hang like a tent over beds, but this netting is also used to cover sleeping bags, windows, and doors. Mosquito nets are most frequently used in countries where malaria and other insect-borne illnesses are common.\nProtect Your Home from\u00a0Mosquitos\nMosquitos need just a small amount of water to breed. So head to your backyard and tip over any pools, buckets, or containers that hold still water. If you use a tarp to cover your grill or firewood, tie it tightly: Rainwater can pool beneath these covers, luring in bugs.\nDon't forget to dump out containers with still water- perfect breeding ground for mosquitos! Click To Tweet\nRead the Insect Repellent Warnings\nVacationing abroad?\u00a0The Center for Disease Control\u2019s Travelers\u2019 Health website\u00a0can keep you up-to-date on travel warnings, disease outbreak patterns, and health risks around the globe. You can also learn about peak mosquito activity times, like dusk or\u00a0dawn, for example.\nIf you develop a headache, fever, rash, or joint pain after traveling, you should immediately seek medical care.