The nice, warm weather gives a great opportunity to get away from the busy city life and enjoy a holiday in nature - excursion, camping, fishing or just a short walk. However, we must remember that this time also favors insects. And some of them, such as ticks and mosquitoes, can turn your dream vacation into a real hell. Therefore, it is good to always be prepared for such surprises. Repellents are one of the means that can save us a lot of unpleasant insect related experiences. In this article we will present you the most important information about them.
Chemical repellents are a group of insect repellents that can be applied directly on the skin, on clothing, or on different surfaces, both outdoors and indoors. It is important to clarify that repellents do not kill insects but only repel them (unlike insecticides, which are toxic insect killing agents). Their purpose is to prevent the insect from landing or climbing on a person to prevent it from being bitten. Personal repellents are most often in the form of a spray, cream, lotion or spreading stick. The ingredients used in them can be synthetic or of natural origin (extracts from different plants). Here we will mention the most common ones.
DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) - This is the most widely used synthetic substance in repellents. Reliable and effective, especially against mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. It has been in use for over 50 years. Particularly popular remedy in tropical countries. The substance was originally designed for the US Army to protect insect fighters from dangerous insects during military operations in jungles and tropical areas. It has proven to be extremely effective and subsequently released for free sale. The DEET content of the repellents is indicated in percentages and depends on the product's effectiveness. For example, 5% content provides protection for about 90 minutes, once treated. It is also important to know that only products containing 20% upward DEET provide protection against ticks. One time treatment with 100% DEET content provides protection for ten hours. But such a high concentration is unnecessary for our latitudes. For Europe, products with 20% DEET content guarantee a very good level of protection. For comparison, in tropical countries, products with a concentration of about 50% are usually used.
The substance is usually used in flavored products, but there are those without added flavor. DEET itself has an odor reminiscent of alcohol, which disappears after drying. One of the disadvantages of the substance is that in more sensitive people it can cause an unpleasant sensation when used on the skin or a skin reaction, as well as irritation to the eyes, lips and other sensitive areas. It may adversely affect some synthetic and natural fabrics. At very high concentrations of the substance, more severe side effects such as insomnia, mood swings, seizures, seizures and even death are possible. But these are isolated cases, at really very high concentrations, which are not used in Europe. According to the Academy of Pediatrics, it is safe for products with a DEET concentration of up to 30% to be used by all family members over the age of two months. Other health care organizations still recommend that they be used by children after the age of 1 year.
IR3535 (Short for Insect Repellent 3535) - Again a synthetic substance used in repellents. It has been used in Europe for about 20 years. It can treat both humans and animals directly. The substance is colorless and has no perceptible odor. Used in many quality repellents. Its great advantages are that it does not cause skin irritation in humans (only in animals it can cause mild irritation), no adverse effects on humans or nature are observed with prolonged use, it is safe for use by pregnant women, nursing mothers and children. The substance is extremely effective for protection against ticks. Added to this is its great durability - a single treatment with 10% solution can provide up to 7 hours of protection (of course, this is also affected by the active activity of a person). IR3535 is effective against ticks and fleas, lice and provides partial protection against wasps and bees. It is also effective against most mosquito species, but not against some of the malaria-carrying species. Therefore, a combination of IR3535 and DEET solutions is often used in repellents. A side effect in the World Health Organization documentation is that the substance causes irritation on contact with eyes.
KBR 3023 (better known as Picardin) - This is another synthetic substance used as an ingredient in repellents. Developed by Bayer back in the 1980s, it was released for free in 2005. Its main advantages are that it has no odor, does not cause irritation (including eye contact). It also does not damage the fabric. In addition, it does not evaporate as easily from the skin as DEET and can provide significantly longer protection, even than the IR3535. In terms of effectiveness, such as protection against mosquitoes and other biting insects, it is not inferior to DEET. It is safe for use in children over 2 months of age. It is recommended by the World Health Organization as a reliable remedy for mosquito-borne diseases.
Pyrethrins and pyrethroids - These are two types of substances very similar in chemical structure that are used as a repellent for insects. Pyrethrins are of natural origin - they are derived from certain types of chrysanthemums. Pyrethroids are synthetic substances that resemble pyrethrins, but with a more potent action and a longer lasting effect. These substances can be treated by both humans and animals. They are safe for use even by children. Another plus is that they do not accumulate in the body, even with prolonged use. Do not harm fabrics and fabrics when treating surfaces and clothing. They are biodegradable, but their disadvantages are that they are highly toxic to aquatic organisms. If they enter the water body they can cause harm to fish and amphibians.
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil - This extract is one of the effective natural repellents. It is extracted from the leaves and branches of the eucalyptus tree. But there is also an artificially synthesized version of the substance. The effectiveness of this extract is lower than that of DEET. As an example: products with a concentration of 30% lemon eucalyptus offer the protection afforded by products containing about 15% DEET. However, its durability is greater - 30% solution provides protection for about 6 hours. To be effective against ticks, lemon eucalyptus oil must be in fairly high concentration. Products containing this oil irritate the skin to a lesser extent than those containing DEET but cannot be used by children under 3 years of age. Also, the substance has not yet been tested for malaria-carrying mosquitoes, so it is not recommended for such areas.
Citronella Oil - Natural extract with proven high efficiency against mosquitoes and lice. It is extracted from the leaves and stems of different types of lemongrass. The substance is widely used in cosmetics and perfumery. Its advantages are that it is non-toxic and is harmless to most tissues and fabrics. Another advantage of the oil is that it has antifungal action. It may cause skin irritation, but is generally well tolerated by people with sensitive skin. Another disadvantage is that it cannot be used on the skin of children under 3 years of age. Also, the oil has the ability to weather quickly, which is often applied to the skin to provide effective protection. Under the terms, this means every 30 to 60 minutes. Add to this the higher price of products containing citronella oil.