Anyone planning on venturing out into the blindingly sunny outdoors this summer needs to make sure they are adequately protected against mosquitos and other insects wanting to take a sip of our tasty blood. It used to be true that living in Arizona had its perks when it came to dealing with mosquitos, as they were not common insect pests that could survive in the desert, and most importantly, this included the mosquitos that carry deadly diseases such as dengue fever and West Nile virus. Unfortunately, those days are gone and they are as much of a danger to us desert-dwellers as people in more temperate climates. It is of the utmost importance that we not only protect ourselves from these vile blood-suckers, but that we use the right products to protect us, as not all repellents are equal when it comes to their effectiveness.
When you walk into a store, you’ll see a vast array of insect repellents all claiming to be the most effective and safe products on the market. However, while sunscreen products are now required to clearly state how effective they are and the length of time they will provide protection, insect repellent companies don’t have to follow any rules when it comes to marketing their product. They can tell you the insect repellent is magical and makes any mosquito approaching your body turn instantly into a pink unicorn if they want and there is nothing stopping them from lying through their teeth about their product on the packaging. This is why you need to know what kind of repellents actually work and steer clear of ones that seem too good to be true.
The only kinds of repellents that are really effective at protecting you from the bugs are the ones you have to apply directly to your skin. All those candles, wrist bands, patches, fans, coils, and anything else you don’t have to rub into your skin are basically worthless when it comes to keeping mosquitos from taking a sip of your blood. The most effective and long-lasting repellents are those containing DEET, which are not harmful to the health of humans despite the stigma against them. All recent studies have found that there are no health risks linked with the chemical DEET. You’ll want to skip the plant-based products, as they haven’t been proven to be very effective at deterring mosquitos, despite what the packaging claims. You should also avoid using combination sunscreen and repellent products. The CDC recommends using products with DEET, as well as ones containing picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is synthetic despite it’s natural-sounding name. Only DEET and these three other ingredients have been proven to protect humans from getting mauled by mosquitoes while outside.
What kind of insect repellent do you prefer to use and how well does it protect you?