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4 Most Common Mosquito Repellents

Updated on September 10, 2015

To get the most out of outdoor activities at the park or nature reserves, it is important to protect yourself from inserts, especially mosquitoes. Most insects bites, including mosquito bites, can cause skin eruption, rashes and itching which can be uncomfortable and induce scratching. Mosquito bites also come with the risk of infections, such as dengue fever, which is transmitted by the species Aedes aegypti. Hence, it is important to apply mosquito repellents on exposed skin surface or clothing prior to outdoor activities.

It has been found that mosquitoes and other blood-feeding insects are attracted to the carbon dioxide from our breath, and certain skin odours. Although the exact effects mosquito repellents have on the winged insects are not fully understood, it is thought that some of the chemicals used in mosquito repellents may confuse the senses of the mosquitoes by blocking their ability to detect skin odours.

What’s in mosquito repellents?

Here are the chemicals that are commonly used in mosquito repellents:

DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide)

DEET is very effective against certain insects, including mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. Locally, DEET is available in spray or lotion form with concentrations ranging from 7% to 25%. Products with DEET concentration of no more than 10% are considered safe to use on young children and infants form two months of age. The effectiveness of DEET preparation does not increase with concentration. However, higher concentrations do confer a longer duration of protection.

Picaridin (Hydroyethyl isobutyl piperidine carboxylate)

Picaridin is also known as icaridin. The advantage of using picaridin over DEET is that this chemical does not damage plastic or man-made fabrics. Likewise, pocaridin is also an effective repellent option and has also been formulated into spray. This is also safe for use in infants from two months of age.

Citronella Oil

Citronella oil is a plant based ingredient which is useful for its insect repellent ability. However, citronella is effective only for shorter duration and hence, frequent reapplications are required.

Citronella oil repellents are available in spray and extended-release patches for use on clothing.

Ethyl Butylacetylaminopropionate

Also known as IR3535, this compound is derived from the naturally occurring amino acid beta-alanine, which is a building block for proteins. Mosquito repellents containing IR3535 are formulated in spray form in concentrations from 10% to 30%. IR3535 preparations are usually safe to be used on children over the age of two years.

How do I use mosquito repellents?

Insect spray are simple to use and can be carried along for regular use whilst outdoors. For most repellent sprays, hold the bottle about 15-20cm away from your skin or clothing and sprays in a slow sweeping manner. Repellent sprays should not be applied over cuts, wounds or irritated skin. To avoid getting the contents into the eyes. Mosquito repellent should not spray directly onto the face. Instead, you can spray the repellent onto your palms and rub it on carefully onto your face. Leave out the areas surrounding the eyes and mouth.

Insect repellent patches are also convenient and generally safe to be used on young children and infants. These patches typically contain citronella oil and can last from eight hours to a few days. It is important to apply these patches on fabric as adhesion on the skin may cause skin irritation.

What are the common side effects?

Skin reactions such as rashes and itchiness may occur with the use of repellent sprays or lotions. These are usually mild, temporary and tend to subside with the discontinuation of the repellent. Eye irritation may occur when contact has been made with the vapour. Immediate washing of the eyes under a running tap and referral to a doctor is advised.

Other Tips to prevent mosquito bites

Mosquito repellent is an effective option to prevent mosquito bites which can bring about diseases. You can also limit your time spent outdoors, especially during dusk or dawn, as most mosquitoes are active during this period. If you cannot avoid going outdoors, consider wearing long-sleeved clothing to minimize exposed skin. Avoid wearing dark or bright-coloured clothing which may attract mosquitoes. Mosquito Trap can also use to reduce the mosquito around garden and house.

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