Mosquito repellent: What really helps against mosquitoes?

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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You are also one of those people which are preferred by mosquitoes? If you still want to spend a hot summer night outdoors, you can use so-called “repellents” to keep pests away. The most powerful means of repelling mosquitoes are mosquito sprays with the active ingredients diethyltoluamide (DEET) and icaridin. DEET not only protects against native mosquitoes, but also against invasive immigrants such as the tiger mosquito.

However, you should definitely avoid getting DEET on your eyes and mucous membranes, as it can cause irritation. The duration of action depends on the concentration of the agent and can last up to eight hours. For the tropics, they should contain at least 50% DEET. Anyone planning to travel abroad to areas where malaria is common, DengueChikungunya fever or Zika virus, it is advisable to stock up on them.

DEET: Beware of allergic reactions

Chemical application agents can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people. This is why you should first try a product on one area of ​​your skin – for example, the crook of your arm – and wait some time before applying it to a large area.

Basically, you should apply a good cream to all uncovered areas of skin and clothing transitions. Milk is generally more practical because it automatically massages better than a thin lotion. Don’t forget one centimeter – the mosquito would find that spot and bite.

Who should be careful with DEET?

Since in rare cases a neurotoxic effect may occur, the Hamburg Consumer Center [externer Link] the use of these products on large areas and permanently, as well as during pregnancy and in children under eight years of age. Also, be careful with plastics like sunglasses and cell phones: DEET can attack surfaces.

Icaridina insect repellent

The active ingredient Icaridin (hydroxyethyl isobutyl piperidine) has a similar effect to DEET, but is considered better tolerated. According to the consumer advice center, it can be used in children over two years of age. However, it can also irritate mucous membranes. Icaridin keeps mosquitoes away in Germany and Central Europe, but generally lasts less time than DEET.

Lemon eucalyptus oil, PMD for short

In addition to the chemical agents DEET and Icaridin, there is the natural active ingredient PMD (para-menthane-3,8-diol), also called citriodiol. It is a component of lemon eucalyptus essential oil, which can also be produced synthetically. Basically, it provides shorter protection than DEET and Icaridin. The active ingredient can seriously irritate the eyes and cause skin irritation in sensitive people. A Test by Stiftung Warentest [externer Link] However, this product has a worse result.

Lavender oil and citrus fruits smell bad to mosquitoes

Biological agents applied to the skin are harmless but generally less effective. The main active ingredients are essential oils such as lemon, cedarwood, lavender and clove. These are smells that mosquitoes don’t like. However, they evaporate quickly from the skin and therefore need to be reapplied regularly. In the sun, they can also cause irritation to the skin and mucous membranes. Anti-mosquito oils only ward off annoying pests if there are enough other victims to choose from: in this case, mosquitoes prefer the person who hasn’t rubbed themselves with a biological agent.

Aromatic Lamps, Basil & Co.

You can’t trust mosquitoes and aroma lamps: their effect wears off quickly, especially outdoors. Ancient home remedies like basil, tomato, and clove-studded lemon are 100% organic and harmless. They should keep mosquitoes away in the room. However, its effect is questionable.

Vitamin B1 tablets: unproven effect

The rumor persists: taking vitamin B1 tablets supposedly helps against mosquito bites. This has not yet been proven. Some users believe that vitamin B1 changes body odor and causes mosquitoes to lose their appetite. If you still sting, B1 tablets are said to make the bite less itchy. This effect has not yet been clearly proven.

In the apartment: insect sprays and electric vaporizers

Insect sprays are reliable at home, but they are also very aggressive. The same applies to electric vaporizers, which are filled with scented discs and plugged into the socket. They constantly release insect poison through these plates. Both the spray and the vaporizers can contain pyrethroids, which can cause headaches, dizziness and numbness. In addition, the chemical toxins can remain in the home for months. Before use, you should read the package leaflet carefully. The Consumer Advice Center warns: Vaporizers put a strain on the body and are absolutely not suitable for allergy sufferers and children.

Worth a try: tips against mosquitoes

  • Set up a fan if available. The smell of sweat, which is pleasant to mosquitoes, is better distributed and the pests no longer perceive it as intensely.
  • Taking a shower can also help. So before you go to bed or explore your vacation destination at night, take another shower to wash away those mosquito-friendly smells.
  • Being near water is dangerous – especially at dusk. Hot summer nights by the lake or river are difficult – also when it comes to the mosquito plague.
  • A bizarre tip: distract mosquitoes from your “track” with a pair of worn socks that you place near your bed.
  • You can also use your clothes to prevent mosquitoes from flying towards you. Light-colored clothing is better than dark-colored clothing – especially since it allows you to see the bloodsuckers better and attack them. It is best to avoid wearing airy summer dresses or short shorts. Even if it is difficult: if possible, cover your entire body with clothing.
  • Hands and face, which are difficult to wrap, should be applied with insect repellent. Creams are better than sprays: they work better and last longer.

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