Buying Guide: How to choose the best mosquito repellent ?
Do you know that mosquitoes are a real threat for you, your children and your pets ? Indeed they can transmit to you serious disease like dengue, Zika, Malaria and more … Unfortunately, as there are no vaccines for most of these diseases, the consequences can be very serious so.
Therefore, protecting yourself from mosquitoes is necessary. There are many ways to do it. When you are at home, it is easier to use mosquito traps or mosquito nets, but if you go out or if you are a tourist in a country where mosquitoes carry diseases, it is essential to use a mosquito repellent.
In this buying guide, our team will help you to understand how repellents work and how choose the better one!
We will answer to these questions:
- What is a mosquito repellent?
- Why buy a mosquito repellent?
- What are the active compounds ? All you need to know about DEET, Picaridin and natural repellents.
- Adult ? Children ? Pregnant Woman ? Pets ? Which repellent is the best for you and How use it well.
- Products you shouldn’t buy.
You can also read our article on the best repellents available in your country here !
What is a mosquito repellent?
A mosquito repellent is a product that can prevent mosquitoes from landing on you or your clothes and some can even kill mosquitoes that come into contact with.
They can be found in many forms: aerosols, pump sprays, lotions, creams, liquids, sticks, roll-ons, towelettes and wristbands.
Depending on the active compound, they can be used for the skin or for clothing.
Why buy a mosquito repellent?
When traveling or living in a country with a risk of communicable disease by mosquitoes, protecting yourself is a health issue. Using a repellent is the most effective method.
There is pros and cons but at the end our team still recommends mosquito repellents as a very good option to get rid of mosquitoes.
- Very high efficiency when using well
- Transportable format that can be easily brought with you
- Is safe for children, pregnant women and pets when used properly
- Some don’t use chemical compounds
- Some use chemicals that can be harmful if you use it badly.
- Even the natural ones can be harmful
- Protection time varies and requires to pay attention to it otherwise you expose yourselves to mosquitoes
- Expensive if you use it too often
- Some can decrease the efectiveness of sunscreen
What are the active compounds ? All you need to know about DEET, Picaridin and natural repellents.
DEET is known scientifically as being the most effective compound for repelling mosquitoes and other pests.
Created in 1946 and marketed in 1957 as a mosquito repellent, the product has a good background about its effectiveness and its effects on human health.
The way in which DEET works is not clearly established, some theories say that DEET disturbs the function of receptors in the mosquito’s antenna that allow it to locate humans, others tend to assume that the odor felt by mosquitoes is too strong for them.
Anyway the product is very effective and the protection time will depend on the concentration of DEET.
|% DEET||Approximate protection time|
Although DEET may have a bad reputation for health, this is unfounded. When properly used DEET is safe for the whole family and don’t stay a long time in the environment.
Before giving more detail, we want to give you our opinion.
We believe that it is essential to balance assumptions, rumors and other opinions that have not been scientifically proven and the very real existence of extremely dangerous diseases difficult to treat or impossible.
Disease-carrying mosquitoes are more and more common, mosquito bites can happen to everyone, and not taking the threat seriously can be harmful for you and your children.
So we sincerely believe that protecting yourself with the best means is the only way to stay healthy, and DEET repellent are one of them.
Disclaimer: The information that follows will come from scientific studies, which like all, can be subject to debate, but will give you a first idea of the research done on DEET.
Here some details:
The only harmfull effects link to DEET were caused by misuse as ingestion or contact with the eyes resulting in conjunctival damage.
Furthermore, a study though to have found that DEET can increase risk of cancer but this study was flawed and DEET is not classified as carcinogenic by Heal agencies around the world as the US Department of Health and Human Services and the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs.
Only 10 reports describing seizures in children following dermal application of DEET that were published in the almost 50 years since DEET has been available and they also were imperfect and don’t allow to conclude on a causal link.
Moreover, this number is very low compared to the millions of children who apply repellents with DEET each year
Moreover, a large-scale population-based study on the safety of DEET was published in 2002. This study proves thanks to 20 764 pediatric and adult cases that young children are NOT more sensitive than adults to the adverse effects of DEET.
DEET can therefore be used on children, the potential unproven risks on health, are in any case much lower than falling seriously ill because of a bite of mosquito.
Pregnant and lactating women
Many studies are reassuring about the use of DEET by pregnant or lactating women.
One on rats and rabbits reported no adverse effects for different concentrations of DEET at different times of gestation.
A study was led on 897 thai women during their second and third trimesters.
Even if DEET was able to cross the placenta in really small concentration , NO adverse neurological, gastrointestinal or dermatological effects were observed in the women exposed to DEET, and no adverse effects on survival or growth and development at birth and at 1 year of age were detected in the babies whose mothers used DEET.
Furthermore, there is no evidence that the use of DEET by pregnant or lactating women poses a health hazard to unborn babies or children who are breast-feeding.
It is therefore recommended that pregnant women protect themselves from mosquitoes by using DEET, as they could transmit the ZIKA virus which causes very serious malformations for the child.
However the use must be done properly as we will see later.
It’s a chemical molecule discovered quite recently. It was put on the market in 2005.
There is therefore much less data on its non-dangerousness than for the DEET, nevertheless this repellent is considered safe by the health authorities and recommended by the World Health Organisation. Nevertheless it is not really recommended for children under 30 months, but there are no other contraindications known to date
A product with 20% picaridin is more effective than a repellent with DEET at the same percentage.
Moreover, this chemical doesn’t decrease the effectiveness of sunscreen, unlike DEET.
The EPA states that picaridin didn’t show any toxicologically significant effects in animal studies.
It is a chemical compound a little less powerful than DEET. It has been shown that 35% IR 3535 = 15% DEET, its protection time is quite low then.
Like other products, it is considered safe by the authorities. In the US, it is approved for all ages and for pets with the usual precautions. In the EU, the evaluation of the ingredient did not set an age restriction, and the WHO classified IR3535 repel as Class U, which means “unlikely to present a hazard in normal use (WHO 2004)”.
Moreover, this mosquito repellent is considered not dangerous for the environment. It is not toxic to aquatic organisms, such as fish or algae, and doesn’t accumulate in the environment.
A large percentage of the bites can be done through clothing, so it is important to have a repellent to apply on your clothes.
Permethrin is the best active compound for this purpose. It started to be on the market in 1979.
However, it should only be used for clothes or nets. It should not be applied to the skin because you may have irritation or tingling, burning and itching.
The permethrin-impregnated garment will repel mosquitoes and kill them if they ever land on you. The duration of effectiveness is generally of 6 months or 3 to 5 washes at low temperature, after which it is necessary to reapply repellent.
This product may be toxic to the environment, so don’t dump it in the wild.
Nevertheless, permethrin is a good alternative for children and pregnant women. Indeed, wearing long impregnated clothes will reduce the use of repellent for the skin (permethrin remains on the surface of the clothing) and they will be well protected from mosquitoes.
Citridiol (Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus)
Warning: Should not to be confused with lemon eucalyptus oil which is much less effective.
It is the only natural compound with sufficient efficacy against mosquitoes according to several scientific studies.
The active ingredient is p-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) which is extracted from eucalyptus citriodora.
Its protection time is quite variable, for a percentage in PDM of 10% it was measured at 90 min which is rather short, but for the percentage of 30% the duration was between 3 and 6 hours which is quite similar to products with DEET.
Even though it is a “natural” product, the authorities recommend using it at most twice and children must be over 3 years old.
Indeed, Citridiol is very irritating to the eyes and as it is a recent product there is not enough data on its possible effects on health.
Essential oil (citronella, geranium, eucalyptus citriodora, lavandin, lemongrass)
These oils can be pure or mixed. Most of the time it is labeled as organic product.
Mosquito Jungle doesn’t recommend these products. Indeed their effectiveness has never been proven as sufficient in scientific studies.
Their protection time with the dermally applied products is very low, it is considered to be between 30 minutes and 2 hours, although in a recent study the mean protection time was less than 20 minutes with a product that contained a concentration of 10%.
So its products are not enough to protect you, especially if you are in a tropical country with risks of diseases transmissible by mosquitoes. You take more risks using these products than using DEET.
Furthermore, it is not because essential oils are entirely natural that they are totally safe. They are not recommended for children under 7 years and for pregnant women, especially due to the risks of allergies and serious eye irritations.
Adult ? Children ? Pregnant Woman ? Pets ? Which repellent is the best for you and How use it well.
First here are general advice on how use your repellent effectively:
- You must adapt your repellent to mosquitoes present in your areas. Focus on DEET or Picaridin products if there are disease-carrying mosquitoes.
- You must respect the indicated protection time, as soon as it is exceeded and you are still likely to be in contact with mosquitoes you must reapply it.
- However you must still respect the maximum number of applications, generally 3 maximum for adults.
- The best way to apply the repellent is to put it first in your hand before spreading it on your skin. You must avoid as much as possible the eye, the mouth and the wounds.
- Children should not apply alone. It should not be put in the hand because it could bring it to their mouths.
- Be careful if you have animals that they don’t lick you after you put a repellent, the latter being dangerous for them. However, they have repellents specially made for your animals.
- You must put repellent only on the exposed skin, not under the clothes, as said previously there are repellents special clothes.
- If you want to put sunscreen, it is important to apply it first and wait 20 minutes before putting repellent, otherwise it will reduce the protective potential of sunscreen. It exists some repellent with patented formula that contain sunscreen.
- If you go swimming, you have to reapply repellents after because it is not waterproof.
- Once back home, wash your skin to get rid of the repellent, you should not sleep with repellent. It is preferable after to protect yourself from using traps or mosquito nets.
- For babies we recommend avoiding applying repellents and rather protect them in a portable mosquito net.
Now some specific advice depending of your case:
If you do not have any particular health problems such as allergies or sensitive skin, then all types of products listed previously are adequate. Following the precaunization above, there will be no risk to your health whether it is because of mosquitoes or products.
If your child is less than 6 months old and the risk of dangerous diseases is moderate, it is best to protect him or her in a mosquito net or put a repellent on his clothes.
Between 6 months and 12 years old, you can use a product with 10% DEET. 1 application per day between 6 months and 2 years, 2 applications after.
After 3 years you can use Citriodiol and IR3535 from 20 to 30%.
The durations of protections are short (2-3 hours), so it is necessary to be vigilant on this point and not to expose too long your children.
Always apply yourself the repellent on your child.
Pregnant and lactating Woman:
Since diseases are specifically dangerous to unborn children like the Zika virus, it is important to protect yourself as much as possible.
You can use the IR3535 and DEET at a maximum of 30% and the daily dose of 3 applications is acceptable to you and you can use Permethrin on your clothes.
Other products like Citridiol are less recommended.
Your animals can also be put at risk by mosquitoes that can transmit diseases to them like West Nile Virus and Heartworm to your animal.
Nevertheless it is best to stay away from repellents that contain DEET and Picaridin. Indeed DEET can be toxic to dogs, causing them to vomit, diarrhea, or even have convulsions. So be careful if you use a repellent with DEET that you pet don’t lick you.
So there are specific products, most using essential oil extracts, the effectiveness is not very great but may be sufficient since your animals are largely protected by their fur.
We do not recommend that pet owners apply essential oils on young puppies or dogs with allergies and sensitive stomachs.
The advantage is that repellents can also repel fleas and ticks.
Products with Citriodiol may also be a good option.
Products you shouldn't buy
There are lots of products that marketing wants you to believe that they are effective in repelling mosquitoes, unfortunately the vast majority are completely useless or even dangerous because you are exposed to mosquitoes. If a product announces more than 10 hours of protection, it is 100% a scam
Here are some examples:
Totally useless according to scientific studies as this one.
The smell is not powerful enough to repel them, the heat and the CO2 released even attract them.
Sonic devices and mobile app
No studies showed their effectiveness, on the contrary they showed the big scam of marketing…
The female mosquitoes are not afraid of these so-called sound frequencies imitating the males
Wristbands and Patch
How could such a small bracelet or patch protect your entire body? And imagine for a moment that this is possible, it would mean that the bracelet releases in the air a huge quantity of chemicals to make a shield around you, rather magical? And in addition you breathe these chemicals.
Totally unsafe and useless according to several publications.
Avon Skin So Soft bath oil
We start from a product that had nothing to do with a repellent, someone launches a rumor, a smart company and here we have a great product against mosquitoes that lasts, attention, 10 min!
Now thanks to this buying guide you know all you need about mosquito repellents !
You want another great news ? We already selected for you the best mosquito repellents available in your country or the one you are visiting ! No need to waste time looking for it ! Click here !
If you have questions don’t hesitate to contact us !
Don’t miss also our buying guide for mosquito nets and mosquito traps !
This article is provided for information purposes with the data we have at its writing. It does not engage its authors. In case of errors or if you want to provide additional information, do not hesitate to contact us or post a comment.