Insect Repellents - Topic Overview
Products that work the best continued...
Picaridin is an insecticide that
has been available for use in Europe for many years. It is available in the
United States in a 7% concentration spray. It may work as well as DEET in
repelling insects. Higher-strength concentrations that are sold in Europe
protect against mosquitoes for up to 8 hours. Picaridin is odorless and does
not feel sticky or greasy. It is less likely to cause skin irritation than
DEET. And it does not damage synthetic fabrics or plastics. The American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend the use of Picaridin on children
younger than age 2 months.
Permethrin is a plant-based
insecticide that works on contact. You spray it on clothing and other fabrics,
such as mosquito netting and tent walls. Permethrin should not be applied
directly to the skin. When it is combined with DEET, permethrin provides even better
protection against mosquitoes. Permethrin keeps working even after you wash
your clothes. You can buy clothes that already contain permethrin (such as BugsAway, Bug Shield, or Buzz Off) to help protect against mosquito bites.
P-menthane-3,8-diol. This insect repellent is commonly known as lemon eucalyptus oil. When oil of lemon eucalyptus was tested against mosquitoes found in the U.S., it provided protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET. It provides up to 2 hours of protection against mosquito bites. Do not apply more than 2 times a day. And do not use this product on children younger than 3 years.
Soybean oil. Insect repellents that contain 2% soybean oil provide 1 to 4 hours of protection from mosquitoes when applied to the skin. Soybean oil is safe to use on infants and children.
IR3535. This repellent is a chemical similar to the amino acid alanine. Tests have shown that it can protect against mosquito bites for up to 1 hour.1
Products that don't protect against bites for long periods of time
Citronella is a lemon-scented oil, derived from a
plant, that repels mosquitoes. It is not as effective or as long-lasting as
DEET. The product can be reapplied frequently to increase its effectiveness.
Citronella can be found in lotions or in candles for outdoor use. Citronella
applied to the skin provides 15 to 20 minutes of protection from mosquitoes.
There is no scientific evidence that citronella candles are effective.
Other plant oils. Other plant oils, such as lavender and geranium, provide less than 30 minutes of protection against mosquitoes. These products aren't recommended.
Products sold as repellents that don't work well to prevent bites
There are other products advertised as
mosquito repellents that don't effectively prevent mosquito bites. These
- Electronic (sometimes called ultrasonic)
- Electrocuting devices, which are often called "bug
- Mosquito traps.
- Geranium house
- Citronella candles.
- Taking thiamine (vitamin
- Skin moisturizers that don't contain approved
- Wrist, ankle, and neck bands that contain
repellents, such as DEET or citronella.