Mosquito repellants: what to look for when buying them

Health News

During the summer we are the target of many mosquitoes. A small prick to suck our blood is enough for the appearance of a welt on our skin, which is always accompanied by an intense itch .

The annoyance of the bites of these insects is not the only reason why we should avoid them at all costs. They can also transmit several types of viruses or parasites that cause different diseases such as dengue, malaria or the Nile virus. Although it is true that these infections are more frequent in other countries, in Spain it is less and less rare. One of the means of keeping mosquitoes away from us is repellent lotions . They are applied to the skin and are sold as a spray, stick, or gel.

Regarding its operation, the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) clarifies that these products do not repel the mosquito, but rather try to “confuse” it. Thus, when the animal approaches the person, it cannot locate it because these lotions block or saturate its olfactory receptors .

Unlike these types of substances, there are others that have been manufactured with the aim of killing these animals: aerosols or recharging plugs . “Simple and comfortable to use, it is advisable not to abuse them, since in the long term their active principles, pyrethrins, could be toxic), they warn us from the OCU, which recommends ventilating the room a few minutes after having expelled the aerosol, as well as removing mosquito plugs during the day.

However, despite the effectiveness of repellent lotions, one might wonder if they can harm our skin. The OCU points out that “some substances have a risk of causing irritation or allergy , and their use is not recommended in children under two years of age .”

Therefore, before buying a product of this type, the first thing we should look at is our needs, because depending on the place we go, we will buy one repellent or another . It is not the same to go to a tropical place with a large presence of mosquitoes, than to areas with normal conditions.

In addition, depending on the active ingredient of the product, it must combine efficacy and duration. For its application, it is important to follow the instructions. People with skin problems or allergies should see a dermatologist before applying any type of repellent.

It is also possible to avoid the bites of this insect without resorting to these products by following these tips:

Try to avoid areas where there is a higher concentration of mosquitoes , such as stagnant waters, especially during sunrise and sunset.

If the temperature allows it, wear clothes that cover most of the body and, if possible, light colors. This same advice applies to footwear , if we use sandals or other types of shoes where our feet are exposed, the probability of suffering a bite is greater.

Install mosquito nets on the windows that we leave open at night in order to prevent these insects from entering the room.

In case of traveling to tropical places or other places where there is a greater presence of mosquitoes, it is advisable to buy travel mosquito nets to cover the bed . Some of them even have a repellent or insecticide incorporated.
How long does the effect of repellants last?
According to the OCU, the effect of a normal and effective application can last approximately 4 hours on average. However, it must also be taken into account that the duration depends on many factors such as, for example, the humidity of the environment, perspiration, clothing or the amount of product that has been applied. Therefore, it is best to use it when needed, but in moderation.

The permanence of the repellent will also depend on the active principle of the product:

The Diethyltoluamid (EWTD) is the most efficient. It protects up to six hours in a row, although it has a greater risk of causing irritation or allergy compared to other substances.

The icaridin is another active substance which defends the person applying mosquito bites for about six hours.

The Citriodiol is not as effective as the previous and protects about three hours straight.

The essential oils (like geraniol, lavandin oil or lavender) are less active, but also less toxic. They barely protect half an hour after application.

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