I also hate them, but over the years, either their teeth have weakened or my skin has got thicker, as they are less bother each year.
Both your ideas are good, the Avon works for us (make sure it has citronella in it - that seems to be the magic ingredient)
The anti histamines work well for me, and still use them if I do get a bite as it reduces the effect on me, trouble is what works for one person does not always help another, just a case of trial and error.
One gizzmo we have tried and had good results with is one of those ultrasonic buzzers, clip it to a belt buckle or handbag.
Another thing to watch out for are flies, just look like normal household type in UK, they can have a nasty bite, so keep clear of greenery and stagnant water.
But good news time, the local council do a great job of spraying to keep the blighters down, and I reckon that is the biggest reason I am having less problems with them.