With the wide variety of anti mosquito products on the market, choosing one that is right for you and your family can be a little confusing. Here's a quick overview of the different types.
DEET Based Insect Repellent
DEET is a chemical insect repellent that works by confusing the insect's sensory inputs. preventing them from recognising you as their next meal! The higher the percentage of DEET, the stronger and longer lasting the protection. 30-40% DEET is considered "Tropical Strength" and is suitable for areas of intense insect activity. Bushman's 80% DEET Ultra Dry Gel is a heavy duty repellent favoured for activities such as tramping and bush treks, especially overseas. While many people use DEET without any adverse reactions, those with sensitive skin may find it to be an irritant, especially if used in large quantities or for a prolonged period of time. It is also not recommended for children or during pregnancy.
Natural Insect Repellent
These come in a variety of sprays and roll-on formulations and are usually based on a combination of essential oils, such as lavender, citronella and lemongrass, whose scents naturally mask your own, making you harder for insects to detect. Don't worry - most are pleasant-smelling and nowhere near as overpowering to humans! They are a good choice for babies and children as they are much more gentle on the skin. The level of protection they provide is not as good as a DEET based product, and they may need to be applied more frequently. However, for normal everyday use around the home or at the beach, often they provide all the protection you need.
Insect Repellent Bands
Parakito ankle/wrist bands and clip-ons are a great alternative when you don't want to apply an insect repellent directly to the skin. They work via diffusion of essential oils from a pellet which is inserted into a pouch and lasts for up to 15 days of continuous use. They work in a similar way to other natural insect repellents, the scent creating a "safe zone" around your body that discourages insects from attacking. The bands are available in a range of attractive colours and refill pellets can be purchased separately, so you can keep using the same band season after season. They are an ideal choice for those with sensitive skin, pregnant women, and anyone who would prefer a completely chemical-free option. The clip on version can be attached to a pram or cot to provide sensitive protection for babies as well.
Picaridin Insect Repellent
Picaridin is another common active used in insect repellents that was developed as a safer alternative to DEET. Unlike DEET, it is less likely to stain clothing and fabrics and less likely to be absorbed through the skin, while still providing very good insect protection. It is often a good choice for children from the age of 1 year old (refer to product packaging) when a higher level of protection is needed, when traveling for example. It is still chemical-based, though, so if you prefer to use all natural products in your household this may not appeal to you.