If you know that you or your family and friends are at risk of acquiring the Zika virus, you should see to it that there is always a level of protection that you should consider. Zika is a scary disease that affects everyone, especially the unborn fetus. The main cause of Zika infection is the bite of Aedes mosquito. These mosquitoes are particularly attracted to feet. They are also day- and nigh-biting mosquitoes. Because of these attributes, you need to heighten your mosquito protection by using mosquito repellents.
Natural mosquito repellents are better than chemical or synthetic ones. Going natural in warding off these tiny predators is healthier. As you know, protecting you from mosquitoes is better if your health is also considered. Oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are two examples of these natural mosquito repellents. Consider them in your next mosquito repellent shopping.
Reasons for Avoiding DEET Products
DEET is a popular repellent in the United States. About 30% of the American population use repellents that contain DEET on an annual basis. If you belong to this percentage, you need to take note that this repellent has detrimental effects. The ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has reported eight deaths related to exposure to DEET from 1961 to 2002. Three of the deaths were caused by deliberate ingestion of the said products. Five of the deaths happened after the exposure of their skin to DEET in children and adults. Known psychological effects of DEET include severe agitation, altered mental state, and auditory hallucinations.
Children who experience DEET toxicity manifest tremors, convulsions, involuntary movements, lethargy, seizures, and headaches. After studying at least 140 employees of the National Park Service, 25% of them were reported to have experienced several symptoms of DEET exposure. They manifested nausea, rashes, headaches, dizziness, difficulty in concentrating disorientation, mucous membrane or skin irritation, and transient burning or numb lips.
Mohamed Abou-Donia (Pharmacologist of the Duke University Medical Center) spent thirty years of his life studying harmful effects of pesticides. He found out that prolonged DEET exposure impairs cell function in specific parts of your brain. This is proved through laboratory tests, showing behavioral changes and death in rats. Becoming exposed to DEET for a long time also causes you to experience fatigue, muscle weakness, memory loss, joint pain, muscle pain, tremors, and shortness of breath.
Other Options in Warding Off Bugs
Based on Consumer Reports, there are three effective non-repellent options in keeping bugs away from you, especially if you are outside—essential oil diffuser, oscillating fan on high, and a citronella candle. Among these three, the oscillating fan proved to work best. An oscillating fan on high, prevents mosquitoes from landing on your skin. It cuts landings by 45 to 65% among people who sit close to the oscillating fan. According to a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, 45% people found fans more effective than candles in keeping insects away.
The best means to avoid mosquito bites is to avoid being in contact with the. Stay inside your home or room at dawn or dusk. These are the times when they are very active. If you have an area with standing water or thick, shrubby areas. Protecting your area from mosquitoes involves the following (from the AMCA or American Mosquito Control Association):
- DRESS correctly. You should wear loose-fitting and light colored clothes. Long pants, long sleeved shirts, socks, and hats.
- DEFEND effectively. You should use natural repellents, according to the AMCA. Natural repellents are highly recommended.
- DRAIN well. It is best to drain any source of standing water in your area. Mosquitoes require water to breed. Look out for bird baths, pet bowls, garbage, gutters, spare tires, and recycling bins.
Bat houses are also effective in controlling insects in your area. Bats are voracious insectivores and mosquitoes re their main food source. The Organization of Bat Conservation can help if you want to have one constructed in your premises. Do you have a garden? Are you fond of gardening? You can consider planting marigolds because they work as effective natural repellents. Bugs do not like the smell they emit.
What You Need to Know About Using Repellents Safely
When you use an insect repellent, remember that it does not kill mosquitoes. It only wards them off. Insect repellents or bug sprays are applied on any surface such as clothing or your skin. These products prevent biting insects from climbing or landing on you, your loved ones or even your pets. With the help of insect repellents, you can prevent the spreading of insect-borne diseases such as dengue, Lyme disease, malaria, or Zika. Ticks, flies, fleas, and mosquitoes serve as vectors that complete the life cycle of these pathogens.
Insecticides are those products that kill insects. Most repellents just discourage insects from biting you. They merely turn back and leave you alone. Insecticides eliminate the insects, killing them even at low doses.
Remembering Repellent Safety for Pregnant Woman and Children
Consider the following when you use insect repellents on pregnant women and children:
- Keep insect repellents out of reach of children in your house or workplace.
- Kids have a higher risk of experiencing adverse reactions from repellents because they are more exposed to them.
- Never allow children to apply insect repellents on themselves.
- Do not put insect repellent on the hands of children to avoid accidental ingestion or eye irritation.
- Just use small amounts of repellent on children.
- Pregnant women should avoid exposure to repellents because their fetuses are highly vulnerable.
- Use less repellent on your kids. Instead, make sure that they wear long pants, long sleeves, hats, socks, and boots. Place mosquito netting over their playpens, beds, and strollers.
Essentials of Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD
Oil of lemon eucalyptus is a known repellent derived from an Australian eucalyptus tree. The extract is processed and refined so that the concentration of the PMD (para-methane-3,8-diol) can be intensified up to 65%. The resulting PMD is different from the composition of the unprocessed or raw eucalyptus tree oil.
Cutter and Repel are brands that sell products with oil of lemon eucalyptus. They have 20% PM and 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus. Several tests show that 20 to 26% PMD may be as effective as DEET against ticks and mosquitoes. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) documents say that the maximum duration of protection provided by PMD is shorter than that of DEET. Repel’s website does not recommend PMD or oil of lemon eucalyptus when the risk of acquiring the West Nile Virus is high. It is also not recommended in warding off no-see-ums (biting midges) or sand flies.
The refined version of oil of lemon eucalyptus is known to be a biochemical pesticide. This is a naturally occurring ingredient that controls certain pests by means of non-toxic means. These ingredients, because they are natural, are approved by the EPA with less safety testing.
Even if PMD’s or oil of lemon eucalyptus’ dangers to children have not been founded yet, the product labels still indicate “Do not use on children under 3 years of age”. You can still see synthetic PMD in some repellents at a low concentration of 10%. They should not be used on kids younger than three years old and they can give you a merely few hours of protection. Synthetic PMD has less risk of skin allergies than the natural version.
Though scientists have no method as to how to determine oil of lemon eucalyptus from PMD, a study established that oil of lemon eucalyptus provides prolonged protection than its equivalent PMD. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is a good product for people who prefer botanical repellents.
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus as a Biopesticide Repellent
Oil of lemon eucalyptus is extracted from the known gum eucalyptus tree. Its synthetic version is PMD (p-menthane-3,8-diol). PMD has pesticidal properties and is used as an effective insect repellent. Keep in mind that PMD is different from pure and natural oil of lemon eucalyptus. Pure oil of lemon eucalyptus is used in making fragrances.
The EPA registered PMD or oil of lemon eucalyptus as a biopesticide repellent. This means that it is acquired from materials that are natural in origin.
Benefits of Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
You can harness many health benefits from the oil of lemon eucalyptus. Here are some of them:
- Helps improve diseases such as coughs, arthritis, colds, catarrh, bronchitis sinusitis, cold sores, poor circulation, flu, and fever.
- It is a safer alternative to DEET.
- Protects you against stable fly, biting midge, deer tick, and Zika mosquitoes.
Need-To-Know About IR3535
IR3535 is a compound inspired by nature. It provides a high level of protection from insects. It is non-toxic to aquatic life, such as algae or fish. It doesn’t even accumulate in the surrounding environment. The WHO Hazard classification declared it as a “U”, meaning it is “Unlikely to present cute hazard in normal use”.
IR3535 stands for Insect Repellent 3535. It is a synthetic insect repellent, developed during the 1980s. Merck has the trademark on its name. It is also known as Ethyl N-acetyl-N-butyl-ß-alaninate. It can mess up with an insect’s ability to smell. It is like natural β-alanine. It is a component of Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid. The French Ministry of Health said that it is safe for children and pregnant women during an outbreak of chikungunya. It is one of the effective repellents that CDC recommends to fight off mosquitoes that carry Zika.
Side Effects and Safety of IR3535
IR3535 has a flawless safety record. The WHO (World Health Organization) declares that its only side effects are eye irritation or mild skin irritation. It does not pose any risks to the surrounding environment or to humans when used normally.
Studies prove that IR3535 is potent against Aedes species of mosquitoes, which are known to carry chikungunya, yellow fever, West Nile virus, and Zika. It is now known to ward off Anpheles species of mosquitoes. You should not use it in areas known for malaria infections. IR3535 is also best in repelling ticks. It is known to provide the longest lasting protection against Ixodes scapularis or deer ticks. When used in higher concentrations, it can be used in repelling the nymphs of Amblyomma americanum, which is responsible for carrying the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. IR3535 can also repel Ixodes ricinus or the European castor bean tick, but not as effective.
DEET vs IR3535
Unlike DEET, IR3535 protects against deer ticks and most species of mosquitoes without skin irritation, odor, or stains. DEET is more potent in repelling malaria, dengue fever and encephalitis causing mosquitoes (Anopheles species).
Like most repellents, you can apply IR3535 on your skin. Make sure that you follow directions indicated on the product’s label. It usually provides 4 to 8 hours of protection. Do not apply it on wounds, irritated skin, near your mouth, or near your eyes. You should not spray IR3535 directly on your face either. Even if it is not proven to be toxic, you should not ingest IR3535. Keep it away from areas of food preparation and food items. You should also refrain from applying it on the hands of children to avoid accidental ingestion.
Additional Information About Repellents
Repellents vary in their length of protection, which depends on the number of active ingredients, perspiration, physical activity, water exposure, and air temperature. Follow instructions before you re-apply repellents.
If you follow instructions carefully, all repellents are generally safe. IR3535 is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA. Once in the EPA’s list of approved repellents, the product’s active ingredients have been assessed and approved for safety and efficacy.
Reminders in Using Repellents Safely
Take note of the following in using insect repellents:
- Do not apply repellents on broken, irritated, or wounded skin.
- Do not apply repellents under clothing.
- Stop using the repellent if you notice some irritation.
- Wash off the repellent once your indoors.
- Never allow your kids to use or handle the repellent.
- Avoid mucous areas when applying repellents.
- Do not spray repellent on your face.
It is always best to talk to your doctor before you decide to use IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Optimal health is always considered in providing protection against any biting insect, especially against mosquitoes that cause Zika.