As if we did not have enough to worry about we are coming into the mosquito season and have to be wary of Dengue fever. Please follow this sage advice from our American colleagues and stay safe from yet another plague.
When it comes to fending off itchy mosquito bites, synthetic repellents are not your only option. Find out what else works to ward off pesky mosquitoes.
by Deniz Sahinturk Medically Reviewed by Ross Radusky, MD
Citronella candles and fans are two ways to keep mosquitoes away.
(Sarah can you change the pics with stock please)
Warmer weather means revelling in outdoor activities like hiking, sunbathing, and barbecues. Along with these plusses comes one tiny nuisance: mosquitos. These pesky pests, which thrive in warm weather, can put a damper on anyone’s summer fun. But there are ways to deter mosquitos, so you can enjoy the sunshine.
The most common method used to repel mosquitoes is Deet spray, according to a survey published in July 2018 in Peer J — The Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences. Deet spray has the longest lasting effect against mosquitos, but there have been some concerns over potential side effects of the spray, including skin irritation, redness, rash, swelling.
Joseph Conlon, a retired US Navy entomologist and technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association, says there is no need to worry, though.
“Deet is a product registered by the EPA [Environmental protection Agency], and poses no unreasonable risk,” Conlon says. “If you use it judiciously there should be no problem — I mean, don’t drink it.” Listen up Mr. Trump! But there are other ways to thwart mosquitoes if you don’t want to use a synthetic repellent. In fact, according to the survey, 36% of people prefer to use natural repellents.
“The results show that in the future, there won’t just be a marketplace for synthetic repellents, but for natural repellents as well,” says Immo Hansen, PhD, who worked on the survey.
When using natural repellents that are applied directly to the skin, it’s important to use EPA registered ones and always check the labels, reminds Conlon. If you have sensitive skin or known skin allergies, it’s a good idea to test your skin first by applying a small drop of essential oil on the inside of your forearm.
Here are 7 natural ways to prevent mosquito bites:
- Lemon Eucalyptus
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified lemon eucalyptus, an EPA registered repellent, as an active ingredient in mosquito repellent. In a study published in June 2014 in the journal Fitoterapia, lemon eucalyptus essential oil was found to provide 100% protection against mosquitoes for up to 12 hours.
“It is a very good repellent,” says Conlon. “Just do not use it on kids younger than three years old; it hasn’t been approved for them.”
Bonus: Lemon eucalyptus also helps relieve the symptoms of the common cold, like congestion and coughing.
- Catnip oil
What most people know about catnip is its effect on cats. But it can also be used as a culinary herb or smoked like a cigarette. Research shows that it can be used to repel mosquitos, too. Yet this does not mean that catnip oil, which is acquired from catnip by steam distillation, will make you suddenly attractive to cats, according to Stephanie Maslow-Blackman, wellness advocate and essential oils instructor.
“The difference between the oil and the plant is that when you extract the oil from the plant, the oil won’t have the side effects the plant might have. For example, if you’re allergic to trees and use cedar wood oil, you won’t be experiencing an allergic reaction,” Maslow-Blackman says.
So if you want to have more cat friends, you’ll have to find another way. But this oil is EPA approved and will give you seven hours of protection from mosquitos, according to Conlon.
- Peppermint oil
Peppermint oil is a natural insecticide and a mosquito repellent, according to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, based in Portland, Oregon. You can mix this oil with other scents, like lemon, and rub them onto your skin for a minty scent. But, Maslow-Blackman stresses, “Peppermint oil is a hot oil,” which means it can cause a warm sensation when applied directly to your skin and might cause a skin rash. To prevent this, she suggests diluting the peppermint oil with a carrier oil, like canola oil.
- Lemongrass oil
According to a study published in July 2016 in the World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, lemongrass oil is comparable to commercial mosquito repellents. According to Maslow-Blackman, combining lemongrass oil with another essential oil (like cinnamon bark oil) will make its repelling effect stronger.
IR3535, a synthetic amino acid, is one of the most common active ingredients in insect repellents. Repellents containing IR3535 come mostly in cream form, and are available in most drugstores. The amino acid messes with the insects’ sense of smell and is an excellent repellent, according to Conlon. “It has no toxicity and gives you eight hours of protection,” he says.
- Use a fan
David Shetlar, an Ohio State University professor of urban landscape entomology, told Cleveland.com that mosquitos are bad fliers. So if you’re sitting outside on a summer day, bring an electric fan with you to keep the mosquitoes away.
- Eliminate standing water
Any pools or puddles around your home or yard can quickly become a mosquito breeding ground, according to the Mayo Clinic. Tips to keep the area around your home free from these insects include:
Unclogging roof gutters
Emptying kids’ pools
Changing the water in bird baths weekly
Making sure rain is not accumulating in trash can lids
Storing flowerpots or any other unused containers upside down