The top 10 tips for preventing malaria
1. Determine your level of risk:
Inform yourself about your destination and the risk of getting malaria. Things you should consider are: The time of year you are travelling, the duration of your stay, the activities you plan to do and where you will be staying. The risk for an infection can vary considerably, even within a single country. Successful malaria prophylaxis depends on your knowledge – make sure you are in the know about malaria risk areas before you go.
2. Stay in well-screened areas at night:
Avoid sleeping outside or in the vicinity of areas where mosquitoes like to live, e.g., standing water (tyres, lakes, waste dumps). If you are sleeping in a tent, make sure that there are no holes anywhere and keep the door closed at all times. These may be very basic rules, but they can significantly increase the success of your malaria prevention effort.
3. Always use a bed-net: impregnated with insecticides
Check that the net is not damaged and always ensure it is properly tucked underneath your mattress. The room itself should have additional nets attached to the windows and doors. Keep the air conditioning on, as mosquitoes tend to stay out of cool, air-conditioned rooms.
4. Use mosquito repellent:
Use an insect spray containing pyrethroids in all living and sleeping areas, especially during evening and nighttime hours.
5. Go for long sleeves:
Wear long sleeve shirts and trousers in the evening and at night. The less skin that is exposed, the better. Additionally, you can treat your clothes with permethrin in order to increase your protection.
6. Insect repellent again:
Insect repellent creams or lotions should be applied to any remaining exposed parts of the skin, especially in the evening and during the night. It is advisable to apply the repellent during the daytime as well. You never know, a particular mosquito might decide to bite you in broad daylight.
We recommend using repellents that contain DEET, with at least 20% DEET concentration. The protection from 20% DEET lasts for roughly 1 to 3 hours and increases up to around 6 hours for 30%. 50% DEET lasts for approximately 12 hours.
7. Sunscreen comes first – repellent second:
If you’re using sunscreen and repellent at the same time, sunscreen should be applied first and the insect repellent second.
Because DEET can make sunscreen less effective, at least 30 to 50 SPF sunscreen is recommended.
At night you still need to use repellant, but sunscreen isn’t needed from dusk to dawn.
8. Check the malaria risks – Get an antimalarial (if necessary):
Depending on the overall malaria risk at your destination, it might be necessary to take malaria chemoprophylaxis (anti-malarial medication), either on a daily or a weekly basis, to prevent malaria Consult with a travel clinic, healthcare provider, or an online doctor service like ours well before your departure to discuss your specific preventive needs.
Depending on the medication you use, you will have to start taking the medication up to two weeks before entering the risk area. In areas of intermediate risk, it might be sufficient to carry a treatment course with you as a stand-by medication. You would only start taking the medication if you experience any flu-like symptoms during your journey.
9. Follow your prescription carefully:
If you need antimalarial medication, don’t forget to take it every day during your trip (or as advised) and do not stop taking it too early after your return. Depending on the medication, it could have to be continued for 4 weeks after you leave the malaria-affected area.
10. Be on the safe side:
If you experience any flu-like symptoms within 1 year after your return, always inform any doctor treating you about the journey and the areas you have been to. Although an infection with malaria usually causes symptoms within 1 or two weeks, it could take a lot longer (up to a year) for the disease to break out. Even if you have done everything right, there always remains a small risk of getting malaria.