I’ll be talking about how to get the best and most effective mosquito repellent in this article. If you have ever been disturbed by the incessant buzzing of mosquitoes, you will know it is not a pleasant experience. Apart from this constant whining in your ears, they actually bite. This may eventually lead to skin discoloration and bumps, giving you an unhealthy look. Worse still, they may give you mosquito borne diseases like malaria and Zika. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in dirty stagnant pools (especially in large expanse of land) where they hatch and mature. If you find yourself in such environment, watch out for mosquitoes.
You may have noticed mosquitoes attacking you more than others, even when you are in the same place with them. This is because mosquitoes are attracted to the gas compounds you give off (carbon dioxide which combines with the air around you). According to Renee Anderson, PhD, a medical entomologist Cornwell University Ithaca, N.Y., ‘mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide as well as the warmth and humidity you are giving off’. They follow this chemical not directly, but in a zig zag pattern until you are located. Therefore since body chemistry differs from one person to another, you may be bitten more (or less) by mosquitoes compared to the people around you.
Not all mosquito bites give malaria or Zika disease but all of them will definitely cause one form of discomfort or another. Mosquitoes that give malaria are attracted to bacteria and sweat while others have high affinity for carbon dioxide and certain odours. Still, no matter the kind of mosquito, you do not want bumps, discoloration or any pathogen they carry.
How then can you identify the most effective mosquito repellent?
You may find it difficult choosing an effective mosquito repellent as they come in various forms with different chemical make up. The best mosquito repellents should protect your skin without causing any irritation to it. Consider the following when searching for the best and most effective mosquito repellent:
1. Check product label for active ingredient(s)
How often do you check the ingredient label of the products you purchase? Never, rarely, sometimes or always? You be the judge of that. Make sure you read the label information on any repellent you choose, before paying for it. The information on the product label tells you the active ingredient(s) contained in the product. Active ingredient is the specific substance that makes the product effective. You should also note its percentage. This tells you how concentrated the product is which is an indicator of its effectiveness and safety.
The top three effective active agents to check for in a mosquito repellent as approved by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are:
This synthetic chemical has been thoroughly researched as a pesticide by scientists for years. Mosquito repellents with 15%-30% deet provide great protection against mosquitoes. According to a research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 2002, products containing 24% deet lasted for 5-8 hours on individuals who took part in the experiment (if not washed away by water or dissolved by excessive sweat), before mosquitoes attacked them. Know that you can only enjoy the protection that mosquito repellent offer when you apply it on exposed body areas. You cannot apply it only on your legs and expect your exposed arm to be free from mosquito bites. So use your deet based mosquito repellent liberally as mosquitoes are happy to feed on your exposed skin even 4cm away from the covered surface.
Unlike deet which has been used as a repellent for years, picardin was approved by the CDC as an effective repellent in 2005. Research has proven that repellents containing about 20% picardin are just as effective as deet. So if you are not a huge fan of deet based repellents, go for picardin.
c. Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus:
If you are a lover of all things natural and would rather steer clear of synthetic chemicals then you are still in luck. Oil of lemon eucalyptus has been used since ancient times as protection against insect bites. Gotten from lemon eucalyptus (as the name indicates), it is your best choice of natural repellent. Mosquito repellents with about 30% of this active ingredient offer protection for about 7hours which is a little less than the maximum protection deet can offer. It comes with a strong odour and is considered safe by the CDC for children over 3 years.
2. Consider the side effects
Irrespective of how effective a mosquito repellent is, if it reacts with your skin it is not for you. Reading the product label may give you a little insight on its adverse effects. However, try and get additional information on this before using any product. You don’t want to end up with a bad skin just because you are running away from a mosquito bite.
Oil of lemon Eucalyptus is generally safe for most people. Picardin is more skin-friendly than deet and just as effective. Do not swallow picardin, do not apply it close to your eyes; apart from these you are safe with it. It can be used on children above 6 months. Though deet based repellents are termed safe by researchers, most people still complain of side effects. When used everyday it may react with your skin. Do not inhale deet, do not let it get into your eyes. If you do you may experience irritation, nausea or stomach upset. Deet (not more than 30%) is safe for children above 2months, just follow the instructions carefully.
3. Product odour
You do not want to give off foul odor just because you are trying to get away from mosquitoes. You will agree with me that bad odor drives people away. So when shopping for the best repellent, remember that you want to keep mosquitoes away, not people. Mosquitoes are not repelled by bad odour, they still go ahead and bite even if a you smell bad. No matter how effective a repellent is, if it gives out a foul smell go for another one.
Watch this video to see experiments that determined the best repellents for mosquitoes. You should be able to get the best and most effective repellent if you put all these into consideration.
PS. Here is a resourceful guide on how best to fight mosquitoes.