Prevention has always been better than cure. One way to prevent any pathogen from affecting you is to repel it. One way to do so is to keep its vector from coming into contact with you. A very potent pathogen now affects many people in many areas with warm climate—the Zika virus. This type of virus is so easy to transmit that the infected male human can transmit it through sexual contact. What should you do to keep the Zika mosquito away from you and your family? Apply mosquito repellents.
What are the Most Effective Repellents against Zika?
If you know you’re in an area loved by mosquitoes, you should know how to protect yourself from them. The female mosquito is the one that bites. She bites because of her biological need to do so. The female mosquito carries eggs in her body. To nourish those eggs, she needs blood from her hosts, which include humans. Make yourself undesirable to these female mosquitoes. Use these effective repellents to ward off those nasty Zika carrying mosquitoes:
1.Sawyer Fisherman’s Formula Picaridin. This repellent will only set you back 7 USD. Its effectiveness lasts for at least eight hours. It may be slightly oily and it has a unique scent. Its smell reminds you of citrus and corn chips. Despite this odor, Sawyer Fisherman’s Formula Picaridin is considered to be the most potent of all mosquito repellents.
2.Off! Deepwoods VIII. Off! Deepwoods VIII is a six-dollar repellant made by SC Johnson. It has a dry and thin coating that gives off a fruity and floral scent. With this repellent, you will have at least eight hours of protection from Aedes species of mosquitoes.
3.Ben’s 30% DEET Tick and Insect Wilderness Formula. At 8 USD, you will be able to keep away two species of mosquitoes for about seven and a half hours. Just prepare yourself for its oily feel and its long lasting chemical smell.
4.Natrapel. For 9 USD, you can acquire Natrapel 8 Hour. It can hold off Zika carrying mosquitoes for eight solid hours. You can be protected while enjoying its floral aroma.
5.Repel Lemon Eucalyptus. You can get Repel Lemon Eucalyptus for only 5 USD. It is made from the oil of lemon eucalyptus. Its formula has a fresh scent, which stands up readily against Zika virus carrying mosquitoes for about seven hours and you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals at all.
6.Repel Scented Family. This repellent costs only 4 USD. It is made of 15% DEET. It doesn’t smell of strongly of chemicals and it has a lemony aroma. It is not greasy at all and it keeps Zika mosquitoes away for a maximum of five hours.
Why Effective Repellents are Important
Summer is here again and public health officials have already issued a warning that the Zika virus will starts infecting soon. As a responsible homeowner, who loves your family so much, you should prevent mosquito bites before the little winged vampires start biting. How to do this? You should use effective mosquito repellent so that you can feel confident that the pathogens such as the Zika virus won’t affect your home.
Significant research indicated by Consumer Reports say that most of the released all-natural mosquito repellents are not effective in keeping the Zika mosquitoes away. They just last for an hour. It is true that natural mosquito repellents, such as oil-based ones, smell nicer. Yet, they do not last long when it comes to warding off mosquitoes. The only natural repellents proven to be effective are those which contain oil of lemon eucalyptus. Synthetic repellants, such as DEET and picaridin, are still the most effective ones to use against Zika mosquitoes. You just have to use these synthetic repellants properly, as directed, so that they can be safe for breastfeeding and pregnant women.
Proper Ways to Use Mosquito Repellents
- Rub or spray your mosquito repellent on the areas of the skin, which are not protected by clothing.
- Take note that it is not mandatory for you to apply mosquito repellent under your clothes.
- Spray on or rub your mosquito repellent after you apply your sunscreen.
- Apply just enough mosquito repellent on your skin (More repellent does not make your repellent more effective).
- Do not put mosquito repellent on irritated or wounded skin.
- Spray some repellent on your hands first before you apply it on your skin.
- Bathe, when you return indoors (This will wash the repellent off your skin).
*** You can apply the mosquito repellent before you eliminate stagnant water, in and around your home. These are their breeding grounds. If you get rid of the source, they won’t be able to last long.
What Should You Look for in an Effective Repellent?
Consider the following when you look for an effective mosquito repellent:
- Keep away from repellents with DEET percentage of more than 30%. You really do not need a repellant that exceeds 30% DEET for effective protection. Based on some research, more than 30% will put you at risk of having seizures, rashes, or disorientation.
- Choose products that have oil of lemon eucalyptus (30%), picaridin (20% or more), or DEET (15-30%). The given ingredients have been proven effective in eliminating mosquitoes for at least seven hours. They are also safe to use on breastfeeding or pregnant women (according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Mosquito bracelets are a waste of money. These repellents failed tests against Zika mosquitoes immediately.
- Stay away from repellents that depend only on natural ingredients such as 2-undecanone or IR3535. These ingredients are not effective against Zika mosquitoes after only three hours. Other natural ingredients such as lemongrass, cedar, rosemary, and citronella are not up to the challenge either.
- Do not believe sunscreen-repellents. Because you have to reapply sunscreen every two hours and after you sweat or swim, using sunscreen-repellents puts you at risk of becoming exposed to more layers of chemicals.
What is DEET?
DEET, scientifically known as N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, is the known active ingredient in most mosquito and tick repellents. It is estimated that a third of the American population uses DEET products to ward of diseases that are mosquito- (West Nile Virus, Dengue, Malaria, or Zika) and tick-borne (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme disease).
Products with DEET are available to anyone in forms of impregnated materials (like roll ons, towelettes), lotions, liquids, and sprays. DEET is never used on food. It is formulated for direct contact on human skin to keep away insects, particularly ticks and mosquitoes. DEET does not kill these insects. It merely makes it difficult for them to get a whiff of our scent. It was first used in the US Army in 1946 and then released into the general public in the year 1957.
How Safe is DEET?
Generally, DEET products are safe and they are not a health concern at all. They are safe, even for breastfeeding women, pregnant women, and even children. Consumers who use DEET products should always follow the directions indicated on the labels.
How DEET Benefits You
As you know, DEET is very significant in repelling disease-carrying ticks and mosquitoes. CDC or Center for Disease Control and Prevention gets 80 to 100 La Crosse encephalitis reports and at least 30,000 Lyme disease reports (deer ticks) on an annual basis. It has also been reported that the District of Columbia and 48 states have had infections of the West Nile Virus in mosquitoes, people, and birds.
If you are in any area where these diseases are present, it is recommended by the CDC that you use repellents with DEET, especially when you are outdoors. EPA’s database says that DEET can repel ticks for 2-10 hours. It can repel mosquitoes for two to twelve hours (this depends n the percentage of DEET in the product).
How to Use DEET Products Properly and Safely
The following are pointers you have to remember in using products with DEET:
- Never apply on irritated skin, cuts, or wounds.
- Read the precautions and directions indicated on the label.
- Never allow children to use this product.
- Do not apply this onto the mouth, hands, or near the eyes of children.
- Do not use the product under your clothing.
- Wash your treated skin with regular soap and water when you go inside your house.
- Just use enough repellent to coat your exposed skin or clothes.
- On rare occasions, skin reactions may be brought about when you use DEET products.
- Avoid over-application.
- Wash your treated clothes before you wear them again.
- Do not spray this directly on your face.
- Do not spray the product in enclosed areas.
How Does DEET Work?
DEET is not an insecticide. It is a repellent. It simply disrupts the ability of ticks and mosquitoes to detect the products of human metabolism, such as carbon dioxide. These products of metabolism are the means by which they find us. No one truly knows how ticks are repelled by DEET. For repelling ticks, you should get a product with at least 20% DEET in it.
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
Oil of lemon eucalyptus is derived from the lemon eucalyptus tree. Oil from the tree’s leaves is applied to your skin as an insect repellent and as a form of medical treatment. The common uses of oil of lemon eucalyptus are:
- Prevents tick bites
- Prevents mosquito bites
- Treats onychomycosis (toenail fungus)
- Treats muscle spasms
- Relieves joint pains
- Treats muscle pains
- Treats osteoarthritis
How Does Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Work?
The oil of lemon eucalyptus has a known chemical can kill fungus and repels mosquitoes. Here are some of its known functions:
- It prevents mosquito bites. When you apply oil of lemon eucalyptus on your skin, it will repel the mosquitoes and ticks. It is almost as effective as the other mosquito repellents out in the market, including products that contain DEET. The only difference is that they do not last as long as products with DEET do.
- It prevents tick bites. About 30% lemon eucalyptus oil extract, also known as Citriodiol, about three times a day, can decrease the number of ticks attached to the body. This is for people who live in tick-infested places.
There is insufficient evidence but oil of lemon eucalyptus is said to treat the following:
- Onychomycosis or Toenail fungus. Oil of lemon eucalyptus mixed with menthol and camphor is said to be good for treating toenail fungus. It should be applied directly to the affected area. Some people use Vicks VapoRub on their toe infection. The bad toenail clears up eventually.
- Joint pain
*** Taking lemon eucalyptus oil by mouth is unsafe. They can bring about seizures and even death if ingested.
Precautions in Using Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
Because of insufficient knowledge about lemon eucalyptus oil, it is advisable for breastfeeding and pregnant women to avoid using it.
What is Picaridin?
Picaridin is a repellent against chiggers, ticks, and other insects. It was first synthesized in the 1980s. It was formulated to replicate the organic compound called piperine. Piperine is derived from plants that produce black pepper. Picaridin has been repelling insects in Australia and Europe. It has only been used in the US since the year 2005.
Picaridin can be applied on clothing and human skin to repel insects such as chiggers, biting flies, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Picaridin products may be acquired in the form of wipes, pump sprays, aerosols, and liquids. Make sure you follow instructions when you use Picaridin products. If exposures occur, follow the instructions on proper First Aid treatment on the label.
How Picaridin Works
Picaridin is a repellant, so it merely wards off the insects who try to bite you. It blocks the ability of the mosquitoes to sense your presence.
Exposure to Picaridin
Exposure to picaridin can happen through inhalation, contact with mucous membranes such as the eyes, ingestion, and direct skin contact. You can inhale it when you spray it around your body or when it is sprayed indoors. You may ingest picaridin if you do not wash your hands well before preparing food.
Symptoms of picaridin exposure vary from person to person:
- Skin irritation (uncommon)
- Eye irritation
- May cause kidney conditions and weight loss
*** If you inhale picaridin, it will not affect you in a bad way because it is non-toxic in vapor form.
DEET, lemon eucalyptus oil, and picaridin are the most potent repellents that can prevent the Zika mosquito from biting you and your loved ones. Warding off the vector Aedes mosquitoes will secure the inability of the Zika virus in infecting your household. Invest in these repellents, so that complications of the Zika virus will not happen to future pregnancies.