Choosing the best mosquito repellent

Choosing the best mosquito repellent

Mosquitoes are a nuisance in many parts of the world, and are not only unpleasant but can also infect travellers with serious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.  When you’re choosing an insect repellent, there are both natural and synthetic options to consider, and your choice will depend on a number of factors. In malarial zones, for example, you are likely to be looking for the maximum protection possible against mosquito bites – while if you’re in a non-malarial zone with fewer risks, and have sensitive skin, you may opt for a more natural product. Here’s our run down on the some of the best mosquito repellents on the market, and their pros and cons…

DEET mosquito repellents

Synthetic mosquito repellents containing DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) offer a very effective insect repellent and this active ingredient is the most widely-used insect repellent chemical in the world. It can remain effective for several hours at a time, and whereas once many users complained about the odour, new technology means many repellents are now virtually odourless.

The biggest down side to DEET insect repellents is the fact that they can cause skin reactions in some users, and cause irritation to eyes, lips and other sensitive areas. Some people also dislike the oily texture on their skin, and if the product leaks in your pack it can cause damage to items made of some plastics and fabrics. DEET insect repellents are available in various concentrations, ranging from mild formulations containing 20% DEET, such as LIFESYSTEMS Expedition 20 – right up to 100% in products such as LIFESYSTEMS Expedition 100+, which is only suitable for adults.  The lower percentage products are obviously less effective, so if you’re travelling to a malarial zone make sure you choose a higher percentage.

Alternatives to DEET

One of the most effective alternatives to DEET for travellers with sensitive skin or a known reaction to DEET is Picaridin Mosquito Repellent Spray, which is recognised by both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention as an effective protection against mosquito bites. In addition to providing equivalent protection to DEET, this product has several other advantages: it has a pleasant odour and a non-oily consistency; it does not corrode plastics; and it offers up to eight hours protection. It also has a low toxicity and is safe for young children over the age of two years. The product may be harder to find than other products, so stock up before you leave home, and make sure you reapply at least every eight hours.

Natural mosquito repellents without DEET

Natural insect repellents are generally based on essential oils – usually citronella or lemon eucalyptus. The Lifesystems Natural Plus Insect Repellent uses lemon eucalyptus and is ideal for children and those with sensitive skin or who don’t want to use traditional DEET-based formulas for environmental reasons. The active ingredient provides protection for up to eight hours, and while it isn’t as effective as DEET it can be applied to children from six months of age, and is ideal for use in malaria-free areas or places where there is little risk of insect infestation. The formula protects against mosquitoes, midges, horseflies, sand flies, gnats, fleas, ticks and other biting insects, is non-toxic, and has a pleasant non-sticky texture and fresh, lemony scent.

Other mosquito protection products

Other products on the market that can help your fight against mosquitoes and other biting insects include battery mosquito killers and plug-in mosquito killers; mosquito nets to sleep under, and Permethrin Net Treatment; a lightweight, pop-up mosquito net hat, ideal for jungle trekking; and insect fumers which, once activated, release an insecticidal smoke that will kill crawling or flying insects when it comes into contact with them (ideal for use in a bug-infested room).

If you are unlucky enough to get bitten by a mosquito, you can get some relief from the itching and inflammation by using CARE PLUS mosquito bite gel; LIFESYSTEMS Bite & Sting Relief Roll On; or the clever LIFESYSTEMS Mosquito Bite Relief Clicker, which uses a piezo-electric pulse to reduce irritation.