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Be cautious with combination products (such as those containing both sunscreen and insect repellent). Sunscreen should be applied generously, while an excessive application of insect repellant isn't necessarily a good idea.
When in a situation where you need to apply both sunscreen and insect repellant, skip the two-in-one option. Instead, use a separate sunscreen (applied liberally) followed by a light application of insect repellent as a mosquito barrier.
* Chemicals and devices aren't the only effective mosquito prevention options.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, clothing can be helpful in mosquito bite prevention. Some helpful clothing facts include:
• Dressing in long sleeves and pants can effectively deter mosquitoes
• Light-colored clothing is less attractive to mosquitoes than darker colors
• A full-brimmed hat can help protect the head and neck
For the best mosquito bite prevention, you can't beat DEET. N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET) remains the standard by which all other repellents are judged.
DEET was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was registered for use by the general public in 1957. It is effective against mosquitoes, biting flies, chiggers, fleas, and ticks. Over 25 years of empirical testing of more than 20,000 other compounds has not resulted in another marketed chemical product with the duration of protection and broad-spectrum effectiveness of DEET.
There are a number of natural products that will effectively repel mosquitoes. Be aware, however, that although they have the ability to perform, the success rates tend to rely highly on constant maintenance.
These natural, mosquito prevention methods are oils (such as citronella oil, castor oil, rosemary oil, lemongrass oil, cedar oil, peppermint oil, clove oil, geranium oil, and cedar oil). They require frequent reapplication (at least every 2 hours.) They should also be applied in higher concentrations than DEET. These oils also tend to vary in effectiveness as the results depend on the individuals using them. In other words, these products aren't consistently effective and require a lot more work to maintain.
Most apparent repellency failures with DEET are due to misapplications, so care should be taken to apply it thoroughly (avoiding the eyes and mucous membranes). Also remember to reapply when necessarily (this is crucial to maintain the DEET vapor mosquito barrier above the skin).
New polymerized 30% DEET cream formulations provide excellent protection not significantly exceeded by higher DEET concentrations. Physicians recommend that a formulation of no more than 10% DEET should be used on children.
Mosquito barrier is a trade name given to a concoction of natural herbs and other chemicals intended for mosquito and mosquito bite prevention. While the idea of natural preventatives such as these sounds appealing, controlled laboratory studies have not shown these mixtures of substances to be an effective mosquito barrier.
For optimal mosquito protection make sure that other factors don't hinder the results of your repellant. There are some factors that can decrease the effectiveness of insect repellents. Some common instances include:
• Wearing too much sunscreen may lessen repellent capabilities
• Dilution of repellent from rain, perspiration, or swimming will reduce its effectiveness
• Absorption of repellent into skin, and evaporation of repellent from wind or high temperatures will reduce effectiveness
There is no scientific evidence that eating garlic onions, or any other food will help a person repel mosquitoes. In fact, in order for the ingestion of these things to be effective, one would have to eat an enormous amount (a lot more than one might consider appetizing).
There is also no evidence that taking vitamin b tablets will prevent mosquito bites. The truth is that the attractant level of each individual to biting arthropods is based on a complex interaction of many chemical and visual signals.
* Do your research before you buy into alternative “natural repellants” or you could be wasting your time and money.
Useful tips to prevent mosquito bites:
• If possible, schedule your activities to avoid the times when mosquitoes are most active (around dawn and dusk)
• Dress in light, loose-fitting clothing
• Place a large fan on your deck to hinder mosquito mobility (mosquitoes are weak fliers)
• Light decks using General Electric yellow "Bug Lights" (these lights are not mosquito barriers per se, but do not attract mosquitoes as much as other incandescent lights)
There has been quite a bit of discussion about the role of Vitamin B in mosquito avoidance. Taking large quantities of vitamin B unfortunately does not decrease the number of mosquito bites you get. Such an apparently simple solution to mosquito avoidance is appealing, but careful scientific trials have failed to show any mosquito repelling effects as a result of taking oral vitamin B, including B1.
*There is some evidence that the use of B1 will make any bites feel less itchy, but it does not reduce the risk of diseases spread by biting mosquitoes.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.