Saturday, May 11, 2013

Knowledge Is Power

Sharing What We've Learned

It's been well over a year since we discovered Skeeter Syndrome was the cause of J's mysterious symptoms.  It's been just about that long since we began using essential oils to manage his severe allergic reactions.  Between this blog, my Facebook page, and personal contacts I've had many opportunities to create awareness about Skeeter Syndrome and share the essential oils we use with other sufferers and their families.  The best part has been hearing back from these people... especially other moms... who are so happy and relieved to have found a safe and all-natural treatment option that actually works!  I've received e-mails and phone calls from people all over the country and different parts of the world.  For example, I've recently spoken with two ladies from Australia, one from the UK, and a gentleman from Israel... all searching for effective Skeeter Syndrome treatments for their suffering children.  It was exciting to hear a Mom from Texas share with me how she knew the oils were working when her 3 year-old daughter began asking for more oils... I knew EXACTLY how she felt since I too had the same experience with J.  I hope to get a Testimonial Section added to this blog very soon to share all these great stories!

I've also been enjoying this opportunity to dive deeper into the world of essential oils.  I've learned quite a bit and met some really great people along the way... including the incredibly nice people over at (check out their newly added page on Skeeter Syndrome, under Health Concerns).  This is a great place to look up suggested essential oil protocols and user testimonials for just about any health concern you can imagine.  It's also a fantastic resource for learning more about individual oils, blends and the application of essential oils.

I'm also very excited to share a brand new site that was just published providing links to all kinds of medical studies, research and much of the science behind essential oils... it's some truly fascinating stuff!  Be sure to check out the great articles on Melaleuca (also known as Tea Tree Oil).

Last but not least... I invite you to check out my Facebook page... (you should be able to view the page even if you don't have an account).  This is where I share many of the additional ways my family is learning to use the essential oils.  I feel so blessed to have discovered these amazing essential oils and have truly enjoyed all the opportunities I've had to share them with those near and far.  Please feel free to contact me with questions any time... Take Care!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Terrific Essential Oil Insect Repellent

October 2012

We had a garage sale at my mom's house a few weeks ago while the kids were out of school on Fall Break.  The plan was to keep the kiddos occupied indoors while we supervised the sale.  However, it turned out that they were much more interested in what was going on outside than anything we tried to entertain them with in the house.  We were pretty busy with the sale and I failed to realize J was spending the majority of the time outside with us.  Unfortunately we also neglected to apply any repellent to him and it wasn't until towards the end of  the sale that I realized he'd received several bites.  To make matters worse I didn't have any Melaleuca oil with me to treat the bites right away.

He had bites on his arm, legs, back and ankle.  There were a few that blistered on his arm but once we were able to start treating them with the Melaleuca they began shrinking.  The Melaleuca also prevented them from swelling up.  Before we learned to treat with Melaleuca, J would typically wind up with golf ball to baseball sized red-hot lumps wherever he was bit.

We continued to apply the Melaleuca oil regularly to J's bites over the following week.  During this same time I received an e-mail from our soccer association warning parents to use repellents on their children before the upcoming weekend games because they had irrigated the fields the previous week and the mosquitoes were "very thick".  Although most all of J's bites were scabbed over and healing from the previous weekend I opted to keep him home from his soccer game that Saturday.  Although I felt guilty doing so, it just didn't seem wise to subject him to the risk of more bites while still recovering from such a recent Skeeter Syndrome attack.

Another week later we were invited to a Family Halloween Party.  The kids had fun dressing up in their costumes and playing carnival games.  The party was outdoors at dusk but J was pretty much healed of any prior bites so we decided to let him go.  I was sure to spray him generously with our Essential Oil insect repellent.  We were very pleased to find that by the end of the party he hadn't received a single bite!

Today was a real test.  We spent over five hours outdoors at the soccer fields!  J had team pictures and a game this morning and then his older brother had team pictures and a game about an hour later.  I applied a generous coating of Essential Oil insect repellent before we left and reapplied again a couple of hours later.  I was very pleased once again to discover he made it through the whole afternoon without any bites.

True... we may have been pressing our luck at this point but we decided to venture out again this evening to the pumpkin patch.  I sprayed J before we left with a good coating of Essential Oil insect repellent.  We let the kids roam free in search of the most perfect pumpkins.  While we were strolling through the patch I felt a sting on the inside of my arm and looked down to see a mosquito biting me!  I quickly smashed it and flicked it away.  I had a slight panic attack and began worrying that J was getting bit too!  It can be a real struggle sometimes to try and balance the desire to "protect" him with making sure he doesn't miss out on too many regular kid activities.  I tried my best to usher the kids along but it took awhile for them to find their most perfect pumpkin, get through the patch and wait in line to pay the cashier.  I was pretty certain J was going to have a bite or two by the time we got home.  I was very relieved this evening to find that he made it through the pumpkin patch unscathed!  I love that this all-natural essential oil has proven to be such a safe and effective insect repellent for our family and especially J!

WHAT IS Essential Oil insect repellent:
Essential Oil insect repellent is an all natural 100% pure essential oil blend formulated to repel insects.  My favorite blend includes Lemon Eucalyptus, Citronella, Lemongrass and a proprietary blend of 12 other essential oils.  It is highly repellent to many flying and crawling insects and bugs (including mosquitoes)!

OUR FAVORITE WAYS TO USE Essential Oil insect repellent:
The best ways to use are topically and aromatically.  One of our favorite ways to apply it is by spritzing the body with a 1:2 dilution of oil to distilled water.  We also like applying the oil full strength to pressure points including the wrists, elbows, knees, ankles and back of neck (for extra protection we will use both methods to apply topically).  We love to diffuse our Essential Oil insect repellent indoors to repel mosquitoes from the home... especially in J's bedroom at night while he's sleeping.  Sometimes I'll even add a drop or two of Lavender to the diffuser to help promote a calm and peaceful sleep.

OTHER WAYS TO USE Essential Oil insect repellent:
Add a few drops of oil to a ribbon or string and place next to vents, windows or openings where bugs might come indoors; Spray diluted oil on windowsills and doorways to repel insects; Add it to an all-natural lotion and apply regularly; Add a few drops when watering flowers or plants to repel insects; Add a spray top directly to the oil bottle to spritz oil on body full strength and use hands to distribute evenly; Add a few drops to your bucket of water when washing interior walls and baseboards or mopping floors to repel insects; Add a few drops to the rinse cycle when washing clothes and bedding; Spritz diluted oil around vegetables and fruits that attract fruit flies; and apply topically to pets to repel insects.

If you have any other suggestions or would like to share more useful ways you've found to use Essential Oil insect repellent (or any other all-natural insect repellent) please feel free to comment below!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Win a Free Diffuser

Facebook Contest

Follow the link below and like my facebook page to be automatically entered into a drawing to win a SpaVapor Ultrasonic Diffuser and 15ml bottle of doTERRA's uplifting and stress-reducing Citrus Bliss blend ($70.00 Value)!  Winner will be drawn and announced November 15, 2012.  Good Luck!


SpaVapor Advanced Wellness /The SpaVapor Ultrasonic Mister! The ultrasonic technology creates an
 ultra fine mist. Our mister is BPA free and offers a convenient on/off and led light switch on the front of the unit. The unit is easy to use and simple to clean. Just add a few drops of oil into your filtered or bottled water (not distilled), and turn any room into a healing, relaxing oasis within seconds. Enjoy the optional tranquil led light display of 6 fading colors to further enhance your relaxation experience. Auto/shut off when water level gets low.

Why do you want a diffuser?  Because you can use a 100% pure all natural essential oil insect repellent that can be diffused inside your home!  Melaleuca oil has also been known to repel mosquitoes so a few drops can be added to the diffuser with other repelling oils for additional protection.

Check out this post for more information on mosquito repellents.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Conventional & Alternative

I'd like to preface this post by saying... I believe balance is key in just about every aspect of life.  This includes dieting, exercising, raising my children, running a business, serving in my church, maintaining family relationships, etc.  Some aspects are harder for me than others.  I am a big believer in seeking a balance when it comes to Conventional vs. Alternative medicines.  I've always believed there are legitimate natural and organic ways to treat several illnesses and injuries while at the same time believing there will always be a place in this world for Western medicine.  There are certain things, particularly with my children, that I would never dare to try and treat myself at home.  We have been fortunate in finding a well respected pediatrician in our area who supports using natural and alternative treatments when appropriate.  In this post I will describe all the different treatments we've experimented with and the results.

This is what the windowsill above my kitchen sink has looked like for the last year and a half.  Basically this has been our experimental treatment area for J.  In the beginning, before we knew that he had Skeeter Syndrome, the primary source of treatment prescribed by the doctors was a combination of oral steroids, steroid ointments, antibiotics and narcotic painkillers.  He has also received this same cocktail intravenously as described in "The Finger Incident".  I don't believe that the antibiotics were ever really necessary.  The doctors were prescribing them to treat Cellulitis (bacterial infection of the skin) which J never had.  We never had much luck with any of the creams including Benadryl, Hydrocortisones, After Bite, Cortizone10, Aveno, Calamine Lotion or anything prescription strength.  The narcotic painkillers didn't always have as big of an impact in reducing J's pain as I had expected either.  They wound up being somewhat useful in allowing him to sleep better during those really tough nights when he had such a hard time falling or staying asleep.  The oral and/or IV steroids seemed to be the most effective in stopping and eventually decreasing his reactions and severe swelling.  The problem being that sometimes it would take multiple rounds of dangerous steroids to accomplish this.

As far as antihistamines went... Children's Benadryl and Allegra never made any difference whatsoever.  We found Children's Zyrtec to be somewhat effective.  We currently purchase a generic brand called "Children's Cetirizine" in bulk at our local big box store.  The maximum dose for J's weight and age is 1/2 tsp twice a day or 1 tsp once a day.  I give him 1 tsp every single morning regardless or his current symptoms.

During the worst parts of J's reactions I will alternate between Children's Ibuprofen and Children's Acetaminophen.  Sometimes these medications seem to help more than others.  I feel they're a much safer alternative to the narcotic painkillers prescribed and I will continue using them as directed during his worst episodes.

We tried a product called Cortizone10 Quick Shot.  It's in an aerosol spray and claims to relieve itch fast and dry quickly.  J screamed his head off the couple different times I tried using this product. It seemed to burn or sting his bites and each time he would not calm down until we put him in the bathtub to soak.

I purchased a product called Medicated Campho-Phenique.  It came in a small glass bottle and claimed to be a "pain and itch relieving antiseptic liquid".  It never seemed to have much effect in reducing any of J's pain or symptoms.

Then I decided to try an aerosol can of "Hospital Strength Dermoplast".  This product claims to be an anesthetic pain relieving spray that relieves pain and itching.  Up to that point this was the product providing J the most relief and we were so grateful to have found it.  The downside was that it was purely a pain reliever and therefore had little effect on actually calming the reaction itself... which usually lead us back to using more steroids.  Late one night after running out of this spray I ran up to the local drug store to pick-up a replacement.  I didn't see the Dermoplast brand we had been using but saw something called Solarcaine that looked to be very similar.  We quickly found it was not the same and did not work the same either.  In fact the Solarcaine seemed to further irritate J when applied.  Upon inspection I realized they were completely different products containing different active ingredients.  My suggestion is to stick to the Dermoplast which contains Benzocaine USP 20% and Menthol USP 0.5%.

I was reasonably happy with the pain relief being provided to J with the Dermoplast.  I was not happy that still too often we were resorting to a prescription of steroids to manage the reaction itself.  I continued searching the internet for a better option.  I was reading through a long thread of comments in a forum when I saw somebody mention that they had been pretty successful using 100% pure tea tree oil to treat their child's welts from Skeeter Syndrome.  My massage therapist sister had also mentioned that we should experiment using essential oils to treat J because maybe we would find one that would help him.  She was much more the believer at that point than I was.  Using essential oils as a natural repellent made perfect sense to me since they were scented, but using them as an actual treatment was a completely foreign idea.  I was very skeptical that a plant oil would have any better results than the million and one other things we had already tried.  However, I have to admit I was curious to give it a shot after running across the recommendation once again from some mom out there who said it really did help her child.

My sister came over with a variety of oils.  She had done a little research and gave me some sample bottles of a few different oils to try out.  I asked her about the Tea Tree Oil specifically, but it was not one she had any experience with (she was relatively new to the world of essential oils herself).  J had a brand new bite on his arm that I immediately began treating with the oils.  My sister told me that I could use them as much and as often as I wanted... and the more the better.  I alternated between the samples of Eucalyptus, Lemon, Lavender and Melaleuca she had given me.  I applied a couple drops to J's bite every hour or even more often when he was complaining.  They seemed to give him relief when applied and he actually started asking me for more oils.  We continued this procedure the rest of the day, a few times throughout the night and the entire next day.  I was honestly shocked when the bite had already begun scabbing over and going away by the next night!  It didn't swell up half the size as it typically would have and it never blistered!  The reaction was being drastically reduced and J wasn't experiencing a fraction of the pain that he would have normally.  I was so relieved that I cried when I realized how effective these oils were.

Over the next several weeks I experimented with different combinations of oils and/or using single oils one at a time.  I discovered that it was actually the Melaleuca oil that gave us the best results.  I also learned that how quickly I was able to start treating J after he was first bit made a huge difference.  The longer he went before the oil was applied the worse the reaction and the longer it took to get it under control.  I attended a few essential oil classes that my sister invited me to.  We were both amused to learn that Melaleuca alternifolia was actually the scientific name for Tea Tree oil.  I also learned how important the purity and quality of the essential oil was.  A common practice for the manufacturers of the cheaper drugstore brands is to dilute the oils with either a cheaper carrier oil or even alcohol.  Obviously this also dilutes the potency and effectiveness of the product.  What drew me into a particular brand was the emphasis they put on the purity and quality of their oils.  They explained their process for testing each batch of oils to guarantee that every bottle contained a high quality therapeutic grade oil.  It also rang true when they discussed their philosophy regarding the importance of harvesting the plants used in making the oils from their native regions.  It's common knowledge that where different foods are harvested has a major impact on not only the quality but the taste.  California Oranges, Utah Peaches, and Michigan Cherries are a few of our favorites.  It only makes sense that climate, soil conditions, etc. are important factors in the quality of the plants harvested to make essential oils.  I appreciate that this company is committed to harvesting their plants where they originate and I believe this plays a big factor into the therapeutic grade and therefore effectiveness of their oils.

As mentioned previously, I have recently signed-up as a distributor with this particular company.  This was due in part to the large volume of product I found myself ordering.  We now receive an automatic monthly shipment containing both the repellent oils and Melaleuca oils that we use for J.  I'm happy to say that it has been months since J has needed a prescription for steroids... we have really been that successful in using the essential oils!  In fact he started preschool a couple of months ago and our Pediatrician, being impressed with the results, actually wrote a medical order for the Nurse at the school to reapply J with the repellent oils as needed and to treat any bites and/or reactions with Melaleuca.  We poured some of the oil into a roller ball applicator which makes it super easy to apply.  We are very blessed that both J's preschool teacher and the school nurse have been more than supportive in using the essential oils to treat J and his unusual condition.  They too have been impressed by the results.

If you or someone you know suffers from Skeeter Syndrome I encourage you to try using essential oils.  I know you will be as amazed as we were with the results.  It is very important to apply the oil immediately and often after first being bit.  You must be careful not to get the oils in or near your eyes as it will sting (flush your eyes with milk should this happen because water will only make it worse).  Melaleuca will not only help reduce the reaction that takes place but provide you with some much needed relief.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mosquito Repellents

Better Safe Than Sorry

Once again I find myself trying to find that perfect balance between being proactive in preventing mosquito bites but not completely overdoing it with chemical repellents.  I know the safety of DEET and other synthetic chemical repellents is a controversial subject.  I've also heard the Specialists say that in J's situation he's better off risking the chance of side effects from the DEET rather than risking the chance of increasingly worse reactions from the mosquitoes.  I wonder what they would say should J develop some sort of cancer or neurological impairment down the road due to the excessive use of synthetic chemical repellents as a young child?  Would they still argue he was better off?  

I'll be the first to admit I have not invested a significant amount of time in researching this topic... yet.  Mother's intuition played a big roll in my initial concerns about using DEET products long term.  I quickly discovered that OFF! brand insect repellents offers a whole line of products containing varying levels of DEET.  I've been most happy with the FamilyCare unscented pump spray containing 07% DEET and the FamilyCare Smooth & Dry aerosol spray containing 15% DEET.  The pump spray lasts for up to 2 hours while the aerosol lasts up to 6 hours.  I use the pump to spray J if I know the mosquitoes have been thick and he wants to go outside and play.  I limit his playtime to 2 hours maximum before I make him come in for awhile.  I'm sure to reapply before he heads out again.  I use the aerosol when the mosquitoes have been thick and we're headed off to an outdoor activity.  For example, the aerosol is used before going to the park, soccer practice, outdoor birthday parties, the zoo, etc.  I am NOT comfortable using either one of these products on a regular daily basis when J is going to be primarily indoors or before bedtime and after baths as the Allergist had instructed.

Avon Skin So Soft was recommended by a few different family members and friends.  I ordered their Bug Guard Plus SPF 30, Bug Guard Plus Picaridin Insect Repellent Spray and a couple packs of their Bug Guard Plus Picaridin Towelettes.  There seems to be a common misconception (at least among my family and friends) that the entire Avon Skin So Soft line is chemical free and uses a natural bug repellent.  I had never heard of Picaridin before receiving the products but it is in fact a synthetic chemical repellent.  It is a newer product which the CDC claims is very similar to DEET in effectiveness and safety.  Forgive me if I don't automatically take their word for it.  However, it is nice to have an effective alternative to DEET when I know J will either be outdoors for extended periods or when the mosquitoes are particularly bad.  It's nice to have a product in the form of a sunscreen as well for when we go swimming.  The towelettes are very handy to keep stored in my purse or the glove box of the car just in case we get caught outdoors somewhere or I forget to spray him before we leave the house.  I like to be prepared.

One day... thanks to my massage therapist sister... WE STRUCK GOLD!  She had recently begun studying and integrating the use of essential oils into her client's therapy sessions with much success.  She purchased a blended oil she had heard about which is a 100% all natural essential oil blend developed to repel insects!  She brought the oil over to my house insisting we give it a try.  The truth is I was a slightly skeptical and more afraid that I would use the product and it would fail resulting in J getting a bunch of bites and suffering a reaction.  My sister showed me an application technique she'd been taught by a fellow co-worker.  Instead of rubbing drops of the oil onto your skin as demonstrated in the video, we dumped the whole bottle into a blue glass essential oil spray bottle and diluted it by twice refilling the oil bottle with distilled water and then also dumping it into the spray bottle... resulting in a 1:3 ration of oil to distilled water.  We put the lid on, shook up the mixture and sprayed a mist of the repellant blend all over J.  Not only did it smell great, but I'm happy to say it actually worked!!!  This was a big game changer for us.  This product was all natural, safe and effective.  This blended oil has become our default spray repellent for J and I have no guilt or anxiety about using it on a daily basis or long term.  I spray J multiple times per day... when he wakes up in the morning, when he gets home from preschool, before he heads outdoors, after bath and before bedtime.  While it might be true that the essential oil spray does not last as long as some of the synthetic chemical sprays, I consider it a small price to pay.  In fact, if I know we're going to be outdoors for extended periods or if the mosquitoes are particularly bad I will use the oil spray as well as one of the chemical products mentioned above.  Thanks to essential oils... the overall levels of synthetic chemicals J is being exposed to on a daily basis have been drastically reduced. 

Another great aspect of using a 100% pure essential oil as an insect repellent is that you can diffuse the oil into the air... Essentially "fogging" your living room or bedroom with an all natural repellent oil which is amazing!!!  Don't worry... it's not actually a fog, in fact you can't even see it but it works!  There's nothing I hate more than when J wakes up in the morning with a new bite... diffusing a repellant blend in his bedroom actually allows my little guy to sleep in peace!

 If you are looking for an all natural product that is both safe and effective like I was... I highly recommend certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils.  I have actually ended up ordering so much product from a particular company that I decided to sign-up as a distributor... which put me on an automatic monthly shipping program.  I also order for family and friends who are interested in trying what has worked out so well for us.  I wanted to make this disclaimer simply so that no one feels like I was trying to pull a fast one.  I genuinely want to help others suffering from Skeeter Syndrome by sharing what has or hasn't worked for us... and oils have worked!

We've also experimented with the OFF! brand clip-on and Bug Band bracelet repellents.  I had heard good things about each of them from friends.  We didn't seem to have much success with either product.  I think they may work just fine on typical kids for general insect repellent purposes... but they simply did not provide enough protection for J with his Skeeter Syndrome.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Preventative Measures

Everything We Could Think Of

At this point I hadn't put a whole lot of effort into researching DEET or other chemical repellents so I wasn't sure what it was exactly that bothered me about them.  All I knew was that using them on a daily basis, long term, for a young child FELT wrong.  However, I knew that not using repellents at all was simply not an option.  I turned to the internet in search of "alternative", "organic" or "natural" insect repellents.  I found a variety of options that I will discuss in further detail during my next post.  For now I want to share additional ways we attempted to repel mosquitoes beyond the sprays.

We purchased a variety of Citronella candles to burn in the backyard when J wanted to go outside to play.  They seemed to help decrease the mosquitoes we saw in the immediate area, they didn't smell bad and were relatively inexpensive.  The down side was that they had to burn... which meant we had open flames in close proximity to my active young children.  Obviously using the candles required close supervision and weren't a viable option to use when I wanted to chase my kids outside so I could get some housework done.  I will say this much in favor of the candles... I felt they were a safer option compared to the tiki torch type lanterns that burnt Citronella oil.  I've never used the lanterns or burned the oil and while they're much more attractive and maybe even more effective than the wax candles... the thought of one of my children knocking over a flaming lantern of oil and catching themselves or someone else on fire terrifies me.  We may revisit the torches and oil lamps some day in the future when they are much older... but not for now.

We purchased and installed a blue light bug zapper in the backyard.  It runs on a timer and only shuts off during the warmest parts of the day when the mosquitoes aren't a problem.  Mosquitoes are not inherently attracted to the bright blue light as many other insects are.  You must actually purchase and attach a mosquito bait that attracts mosquitoes to the unit so they can get zapped.  We installed this light in the furthest corner of the yard for that reason.  I would not place one near a doorway or window since it first has to attract the mosquitoes.  Also, I'd beware of placing one near my patio furniture, bbq or eating areas as you will end up with little fried exploded bug parts all over the place.  It's gross but at least we know it's working.  It seems to have helped reduce the amount of mosquitoes and other bugs for that matter... however it is not 100% and certainly not enough on it's own.

The green box-looking thing hanging from the side of our shed... that is an Ultrasonic Yard Guard Animal Repellent.  The truth is we first purchased that thing to scare off the pigeons (we have a horrible pigeon problem in our neighborhood).  But when it arrived I noticed there was a setting on the back for insects.  The problem was that when I switched it to the insect repellent setting I could actually hear the super high pitched whining sound that the device created... and I'm pretty sure the barking dogs next door could too.  The problem was I could hear it from all areas of the backyard, from the front yard and worst of all from the inside of my house.  I tried my best to suffer through it for a couple of days to see if I would get used to it but all I got was a constant headache.  I couldn't take it anymore and switched the thing back over to the pigeon and bird setting which I could not hear at all.  I don't think we gave it a fair chance to decide how well it actually worked on repelling the insects... but if the success we've had on the pigeon setting is any indicator we're not missing out.  The pigeons haven't gone anywhere and don't seemed to be bothered in the least... save your money.

Everybody knows that standing water (i.e. green pools) is the best breeding ground for mosquitoes.  We don't have a swimming pool or any other water features on our property.  In fact, since we'd installed the artificial turf we weren't even running the sprinklers.  We changed our pet's water bowl frequently and our yard drained very well after rainstorms.  These were all things we'd been conscious and careful of.  Although we were careful about our own property we realized we had little control over the condition of our neighbor's properties.  I'll admit the first time my husband insisted on climbing up on the roof to take a look around I was pretty embarrassed.  I demanded he not be "so obvious" about it and told him to act like he was patching a leak or something up there.  My attitude quickly changed and I became grateful he even thought to do it because of the valuable insight we gained.  We discovered there was a pool behind the vacant house two doors down and guess what... it was green!  We were able to file a complaint over the phone with the city and they sent people out to take care of it.  While it didn't rid us of all the mosquitoes it sure helped reduce the major infestation we were experiencing at the time. It doesn't bother me at all now when on occasion my husband decides to climb up there and check out that roof patch.

Are you aware that in effort to combat the outbreak of West Nile Virus several cities have started fogging neighborhoods to kill mosquitoes?  I live in one of these cities and in years past we have received notices about them coming to spray our neighborhood.  In the past we've also been able to call and request that our neighborhood be sprayed.  However, that is no longer the case.  I'm not sure if it has to do with the recession or budget cuts but when I called to request that our neighborhood be sprayed this year I was told that they were only treating neighborhoods in which they recovered "abnormal amounts of mosquitoes or mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile" in the test traps they placed.  I attempted to explain our situation (I mean hey... I'm a taxpayer right?) but the girl on the other end of the phone was not very helpful.  I'm sure there wasn't much she could do to help me if she wanted to.  I'm considering sending a letter to make my request again in writing... maybe it will end up in the hands of somebody with a little more authority who can help us out.  The main reason I mention this is that I believe it's an avenue worth exploring in your own city.  If you're suffering from Skeeter Syndrome and you live somewhere where they fog, it might just be worth a phone call to request they come treat your neighborhood too.

So that brings me to this baby... the Mosquito Magnet Trap.  We do not own one, I've never used one and only recently heard of one when my husband happened to run across it on the Cabela's website. We are very tempted to order this and try it out... our only hesitation being the hefty price tag.  There were only two reviews on the Cabela's site but they were both very good.  I really need to take the time and do some deeper research so we can make a solid decision on whether it's worth the investment or not.  Does anyone out there have any experience using one of these things?  I'd love to get some feedback about your experience with the mosquito magnet or any of the items listed above for that matter.  Or if you have anything at all to share regarding your own successes or failures in attempting to reduce or repel mosquitoes by all means... please do!

Mystery Diagnosis

Skeeter Syndrome

I went home and called to make an appointment with the Pediatric Allergist. Their soonest available "new patient" appointment was 8 weeks away.  Eight weeks!  I am not nor have I ever been a very patient person... 8 weeks seemed like an eternity.  I scheduled the appointment and marked it on my calendar. I decided to start researching mosquito bite allergies in the meantime.  I had previously made several attempts to research J's symptoms on the internet never having much luck.  Knowing that mosquito bites were the cause of his symptoms made all the difference.

 My search lead to pictures other people had posted of their own severe allergic reactions to mosquito bites.  I ended up on a blog where a 23 year old young man had written a post about growing up with a severe allergy to mosquito bites called Skeeter Syndrome.  I had never heard of Skeeter Syndrome before but the description of the symptoms he gave sounded very familiar.  The picture he posted looked very familiar as well.

The top result after a google search on "Skeeter Syndrome" was a link to and some basic information on Skeeter Syndrome.  The paragraph and a half description provided by the site was quite disappointing.  While I was very happy to finally have a name for J's condition, I was quite frustrated to find there was limited information available.  I quickly realized I was better off browsing through blogs and forums to find the details I was after.  This information was typically being given from the author's own personal experience.  Furthermore it was disappointing to realize the lack of resources available on effective treatments and/or preventative measures.  I spent many many hours gathering what info I could during the next several weeks while we waited for J's appointment with the allergist to arrive.

It was the day of our long awaited appointment with the Pediatric Allergist.  Our Pediatrician suggested I bring along the photo journal I'd been keeping of J's symptoms for the Allergist to review.  He confirmed my suspicions of Skeeter Syndrome as we discussed J's history.  He reviewed the pictures we'd brought and examined J.  He recommended I continue giving J a daily dose of allergy medication like Claritin or Zyrtec.  He advised me to use Benadryl and Ibuprofen to treat a reaction.  I explained we were already doing this but it seemed to do little to help with the reaction or the pain.  He responded by saying the most important part of managing Skeeter Syndrome was to be diligent in taking preventative measures like keeping him indoors during peak mosquito times (dusk and dawn) and keeping him sprayed with repellents.  He told me to spray him as soon as he got up in the morning, throughout the day, after a bath or swimming and after he changed into pajamas before bedtime.  

He instructed me to use a product containing DEET as it would be the most effective to repel mosquitoes.  I raised concerns about the constant chemical exposure that would cause and possible side effects of following his advice.  He warned that it was likely for the severity of the allergic reactions to increase as time went on and said that the possibility of anaphylactic shock was more of a threat to J's health than the possibility of side effects from using the chemical repellents.  In other words it was the lesser of two evils.  I wasn't thrilled with this rationalization at all.  I asked about putting J through a round of allergy shots to desensitize him to the mosquitoes.  I explained that my sister had found success with the shots in treating her environmental allergies.  He explained that allergy shots were not an option for J as the serums for insect allergies had not yet been developed.  Shots were only being manufactured for treating food and environmental allergies.  Basically the bottom line was that there were no good treatments or even preventative measures available for those who suffered from Skeeter Syndrome.  I packed up my pictures and we headed home... completely discouraged.