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What Is The Best Mosquito Repellent?

As the summer heat rolls in, so do the questions about how to avoid mosquito-borne viruses. According to a recent survey about half of Americans do not follow the CDC guidelines on using an appropriate repellent. This may be due to confusion about the array of choices and safety concerns, but the health officials want to get this message out: Mosquito repellents are safe, and you should use them. Helping patients wade through the choices and which are best for them was the topic of a recent Medscape article. Here are the highlights:

  • DEET is king but if patients want to avoid it – use picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus (aka PMD).
  • DEET is safe for pregnant women and is the only active ingredient that has been studied for effects during pregnancy.
  • Pick a concentration of DEET somewhere between 20-50% or 30% PMD or oil of lemon eucalyptus to keep mosquitoes away for 4 to 6 hours. Products with at least 20% picaridin last for about 6 hours.
  • When fighting mosquitoes, “natural” is not the way to go. Essential oils of citronella, clove, lemongrass, or rosemary failed to keep the bloodsuckers at bay for even an hour. (PMD, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, is not considered “natural,” since it’s a chemical copy of the oil.)
  • Sprays work faster than lotions but lotions can have time-released ingredients so that a lower concentration of active ingredient can offer longer protection, which will also reduce a person’s chemical exposure.
  • Don’t choose combination bug repellants and sunscreens. Instead, start with sunscreen, and then put mosquito repellent over it.
  • Check expiration dates. Most products are optimally effective for 3 years after you buy them, according to S.C. Johnson, the company that makes OFF.
  • Got kids? Products with DEET can be used on babies older than 8 weeks of age. Picaridin is considered safe for kids over the age of 2, and products with PMD/oil of lemon eucalyptus are considered safe for kids older than 3.
  • Read the directions!  One survey found as many of a third of parents apply insect repellents incorrectly. According to experts, the # 1 reason repellents don’t work is because they were put on incorrectly, so read the directions and apply thoroughly.


Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C

Posted: July 5, 2016

Source: Medscape
Adapted from the original article.

[Image: Pixabay / Skeeze]

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