Itchy? Read the Siriroj Guide to Local Bug Bites
Thailand’s tropical climate may come with a great many advantages, but it unfortunately also makes the country a hospitable environment for many kinds of insects. Here are some tips from the doctors at Bangkok Hospital Siriroj Skin Center about which ones to watch out for and what to do about them.
1. You need to be more careful about mosquito bites than you might think. Especially if you’re coming from another country with a more temperate climate, it might be tempting to dismiss mosquito bites as no big deal. Unfortunately, in Thailand, these annoying little pests can sometimes carry dengue fever, a serious illness. Cases of malaria are rare, especially in urban areas like Bangkok, but do occur in some of the jungles near the Lao and Burmese borders. Although a few bug bites are inevitable, you can minimise your risk of infection by taking simple precautions against mosquitos.
2. There are a number of ways to protect yourself. If you plan on going trekking in the jungles, especially in the early morning or evening when insects are most active, always pack a powerful insect repellent with DEET and remember to regularly reapply. If you are sleeping in bungalows, be sure that each has a secure mosquito netting in place.
3. Certain parts of Thailand carry a greater risk of bug bites than others. Stagnant bodies of water, dense jungles, and mangrove swamps all tend to be magnets for creepy crawly things. If you’re venturing into these areas, be sure to be extra careful.
4. Know the signs of bed bugs. Bed bugs are an unfortunate reality around the world. Always try to stay in hotels and guesthouses that appear clean and well-managed to reduce your risk of coming into contact with them.
5. Watch out for rove beetles. If you find yourself with an itchy, reddish rash, you may have a condition called paederus dermatitis, which often occurs after a rove beetle bites you. These distinctive red-and-black beetles are a nasty surprise for many first-time visitors to Thailand. The rash can be very uncomfortable. In this case, it’s recommended to seek medical attention for a proper treatment or medication.
6. Stay away from stray dogs or other animals that might carry fleas or ticks. Although Bangkok no longer has quite as many soi (stray) dogs as it once did, stray animals are still fairly common in parts of the country. Most are shy and prefer not to approach humans, but may be carriers of common pests like fleas.