top of page

Malaria Medications (what to ask for & what to avoid)

Many places in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia are at high risk for malaria. Like yellow fever, malaria also comes from mosquito bites. Luckily, it is preventable by starting anti-malarial medication two days prior to your trip.

The most common (and safe) antimalarial prescriptions available are:

  1. Doxycycline. Doxycycline is also used for acne treatment, so young travelers enjoy having clear skin while taking this medication. Unfortunately, it does have to be taken for 28 days after leaving your destination. It also can increase travelers’ risk of sunburn and makes the birth control pill not work, but it is the cheapest medication at about $15-20 for 30 pills.

  2. Malarone. Malarone is the only medication with a safe pediatric dosage for traveling families. This medication only needs to be taken for 7 days after returning from your destination, and is only slightly more expensive at $30-50 for 30 pills.

Adult dosage

Side effects



100mg daily

Begin 1-2 days before travel, daily during travel, and for 4 weeks after leaving.

Increased sun sensitivity (risk of sunburn), decreased effectiveness of oral birth control pills

Cannot be used by pregnant women (or women who may become pregnant) and children < 8 years old

Malarone (Atovaquone/Proguanil)

1 tablet daily

Begin 1-2 days before travel, daily during travel, and for 7 days after leaving.

​Cannot be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding a child less than 5 kg. Cannot be taken by people with severe renal impairment.

If you are pregnant or expect to become pregnant, you'll need an alternative medicine as these are both contraindicated for pregnant women.

Any doctor, NP, or PA can prescribe these medications because they are not controlled substances, and interact with very few medications.

Malaria medication for children can usually be crushed up, and added to yogurt, chocolate syrup, or applesauce if they are unable to take pills.

Antimalarials are low-cost, effective medications to avoid contracting malaria on your trip. Compared to the cost of your plane ticket, these medications are negligible and are much preferred over contracting malaria.

Symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also cause anemia and jaundice (yellowing of the skin). Malaria in the United States was pretty much eliminated in the 1950s due to use of insecticides, drains, and window screens. Most malaria cases now are imported, from travelers returning.

One malaria pill to avoid is Mefloquine. This medication has been on the market for a very long time, but is not the safest antimalarial. Doctors occasionally prescribe it for ease-of-use in children because it only needs to be taken once a week, but it can cause crazy nightmares and has a Black Box warning regarding brain stem damage. Request an alternative antimalarial medication if your physician prescribes mefloquine.

Make an appointment at any of the Arizona Away Clinic locations to learn more about malaria, travel medicine, and get your yellow fever vaccination. Get protected and safe travels!


bottom of page