Health + Wellness

Best Mosquito Repellents To Keep Zika At Bay

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From deet to plant oils and herbs, find out which ingredients are most effective in keeping the mosquitoes away.

While the Zika situation may have quelled a little, three new cases were reported just two days ago on 20 September – bringing the total number of cases islandwide to 383.

Apart from being more aware and taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Zika, possibly the most effective way to keep the Aedes mosquitoes away is through the use of insect repellents.

However, with so many products and different ingredients claiming to keep mosquitoes away, ever wondered which insect repellent actually really works?

Consumer Reports recently carried out a nationally represented survey on 2,000 U.S. adults to find out which products would work best against the Aedes mosquito. They found that most respondents do not actually read the ingredients list on insect repellents before purchasing them and this is problematic as  active ingredients and concentration are what really matters.

Reports also carried out tests and found that ingredients such as Deet, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, and Picaridin rated best, with all three being suitable for pregnant women. However, they found that natural plant oil ingredients such as lemongrass, citronella, cedar, cinnamon, or peppermint provided little protection against the Aedes mosquito.

Deet (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide)

According to their tests, products containing 15 to 30 percent Deet were found to be most effective in repelling insects. It is important to note the concentration in products as higher concentrations or prolonged exposure could pose risks such as rashes and even seizures.

OFF_Active_Product_Card_2X

OFF! Active Sweat Resistant Insect Repellent (170ml) – 15 percent Deet (SGD 7.95 at Watsons)

Picaridin

According to their tests, products containing 20 percent Picaridin worked best in repelling insects and could do so for up to eight hours. Once again, the results found that concentration was important as a product containing just 5 percent Picaridin scored poorly as an insect repellent.

Moz Away 75ml B_635304155517049576

Moz Away Long Hour Protection (75ml) – 19.2 percent Picaridin (SGD 8.15 at Guardian)

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE)

While insect repellents containing OLE are much less common and readily available in Singapore, those looking for an effective and natural repellent can consider finding products with OLE. According to Consumer Report’s tests, products containing 30 percent of OLE were effective in fending mosquitoes for up to seven hours.

repel

REPEL Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent (118ml) – 30 percent Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (USD 4.29 on Amazon)

Nevertheless, with successful stories of effective and unique “homemade repellents” on the rise, perhaps there is still a possibility that other ingredients can fend off mosquitoes too.

A repellent that hits closest to home could perhaps take the form of an herbal insect repellent. Local TCM health and wellness brand, Eu Yan Sang offers an alternative repellent with its TCM 8 Herbs & Mozzie Repellent (SGD 5 at Eu Yan Sang stores).

[Picture] TCM 8 Herbs made Mozzie Repellent 1

According to the Suzhou Municipal Hospital, a mix of eight different Chinese herbs can provide an effective remedy to keep mosquitos away. Packed together in a breathable cloth pouch, this special combination of herbs emits a smell that repels mosquitoes. A single pouch can cover an area of 18-20 square metres and can last for six months.

The formula consists of these eight different herbs:

  1. Honeysuckle (金银花)
  1. Clove (丁香)
  1. Mugwort Leaves (艾叶)
  1. ShiChangPu (石菖蒲)
  1. Basil leaves (紫苏叶)
  1. Agastache (藿香)
  1. Mint (薄荷
  1. Angelica (白芷)

With a clearer idea of which active ingredients and concentrations are most effective in repelling mosquitoes, it is still important to know how to apply repellents safely so as to minimise irritation or possible side effects. Be sure to avoid spraying directly onto the face or wounds, as well as under clothing. It is also best to apply repellent in the morning or evening, where the Aedes mosquitoes are most active.

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