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My Sand Fly advice

USA
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My Sand Fly advice

I spent a lot of time researching this topic and had some first hand experiences which contrasted with my fellow travelers. I thought I'd pass along my thoughts in terms of the dreaded sand flies.

Every local will have some wives tale about this or that tonic that prevents the bites and makes them better. This is much like how Avon made a killing by selling skin so soft as a fly repellent when later in blind tests it was proven to do nothing. There are a few things that actually work and obviously are sold as such.

Prevention

Light long pants at night are a great way to protect your legs. In terms of repellent, Deet works the best and lasts the longest. Picaridin is also proven to work, doesn't smell as bad as deet, is less toxic though it doesn't last as long. It is my preference on island. It can't be found there that I could see though. Don't waste your money on basically anything else.

Dealing with the bites

Bites itch. They cause your body to create histamines and thus itch. The systemic way to treat these is actually allergy pills. Benadryl is great but makes you damn tired and isn't for people with high blood pressure. I took allegra. My bites didn't itch very much and didn't swell. Everyone else was itching like crazy. When I stopped taking allegra, my bites itched a ton. It's an OTC allergy medication. There are a lot of similar drugs out there like Zytec, etc that have basically no side effects. You should speak with a doctor or pharmacist about them before taking them.

In terms of the individual bites, Hydrocortisone cream is what the medical community uses to treat itch. It's proven to work. Using any local remedies is just snake oil.

Spray up, wear pants if you can, avoid being on the beach at dawn/dusk, take an allergy pill and hydrocortisone cream and bring repellent with you. Best way to foil those little creatures.

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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1. Re: My Sand Fly advice

For those of us who can't use steroids like hydrocortisone, dotting 'Orajel' or other teething pain numbers is a great alternative.

One bit of advice I have to add - and I've only needed to use it a few times but with great success - is vegetable (or minutera/baby) oil. The little biters stick to it and can't bite. It's messy but works a charm if you're heading up the beach to dinner and don't want to wear long pants or the above-named repellents. Makes your skin soft, too.

My very best advice is to pray for a steady breeze. ;-)

Canada
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2. Re: My Sand Fly advice

Just to add my two cents. I didn't just get bitten at dusk or dawn on the beach by sand flies and neither did a friend of ours.

Without my insect repellent(containing deet) I would have gotten bitten badly on the main street in West End in the morning well after dawn.. Saw lots of people who did.

I did use a local ointment for bites along with other after bite remedies and did find the local "snake oil" worked for me. Maybe not for everyone.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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3. Re: My Sand Fly advice

It's crazy how they will be all over one person and not bother a person sitting right next to them. My wife was consumed, I was bitten only a handful of times. She got red and blotty, my bites didn't bother me at all. Weird.

Canada
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4. Re: My Sand Fly advice

Yes it is weird!

My husband had lots of little red dots around his feet and ankles but that's all they were- just red dots. Did not itch or swell. He never put any insect repellent on at all. He insisted he didnt need it and I guess he was right.

We did take malaria pills so good thing!

Minneapolis...
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5. Re: My Sand Fly advice

I used coconut oil and it worked great. Stops the itch too. A local actually saw my back and told me about it which was a trip saver. And as hopfulist said makes your skin so nice.

Chicago
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6. Re: My Sand Fly advice

Is malaria a problem in Roatan or other parts of Central America? Should malaria meds be taken for a basic tourist trip there?

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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7. Re: My Sand Fly advice

Travel forums aren't a great place to seek medical advice imo. Here's the CDC's take:

…cdc.gov/travel/…honduras

Sudbury, Canada
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8. Re: My Sand Fly advice

I agree with hopefulist,, read the CDC advice and speak with your physician or visit a travel medicine clinic.

Edited: 01 June 2014, 17:38
Minneapolis...
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9. Re: My Sand Fly advice

sciguy... my friend... if you have some malarone around from your trips to East Africa, it is fine to use it up for Roatan. Otherwise, the older less expensive chloroquine is still effective for Honduras. I was taking the malarone for over 3 months last year and I kind of suspect it for a long period of mildly upset stomach, so next year if we return to Roatan I'll probably go with the cholorquine.

BTW - malaria meds are available on the island without prescription. This is usually no great help for tourists, since you are supposed to start the meds before arriving. On the other hand, as a frequent traveler, if you have, say, a few malarone on hand from your last trip... you can start with those and finish up with over-the-counter (cheap) drugs from the local pharmacy...

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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10. Re: My Sand Fly advice

If it's the same as in Guatemala, the 'chloroquine' in Honduras will be called Aralen; if you decide to go that route be sure to check the dosages, in my experience they're different from what is normally found per pill in the US (half, I think).

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