Health Crush Contributor
In the warm summer months, you’re probably spending a lot more time outside, and there are some pesky companions who are sharing the fresh air with you — mosquitos. It’s no secret that mosquito bites are one of the most annoying parts of the summer season, especially as humidity rises and bugs flock to the nearest and sweetest surface they can find (aka your skin). Bug spray keeps the pests away but could it be doing more harm than good? How important is it to use non-toxic mosquito repellent?
With concerns about West Nile virus still very much alive and well, it’s more important than ever that you and your children use insect repellent regularly. Harry Savage, chief of ecology and entomology activity at the CDC‘s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, suggests “using an insect repellent is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from West Nile and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.”
How to Choose a Non-Toxic Mosquito Repellent
The trick is to find a non-toxic mosquito repellent that is also approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the CDC, “when used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.”
If you’re looking for safe mosquito repellent, you’re not alone. A lot of people are worried about the negative effects of toxic bug spray and are searching for a safer, more natural alternative to protect themselves and their families.
So, what do you need to look for in terms of natural mosquito repellent? While study findings show that DEET is the most effective ingredient in the fight against mosquito bites and vector-borne illnesses, there are a few other active ingredients that are derived from plants and effectively help defend your skin against mosquito bites. Consumer Reports found that picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus both work well to prevent bug bites.
It’s important to note that these ingredients are both “chemically synthesized ingredients but more similar to natural compounds than DEET; they also come with fewer side effects,” according to Time . So what are they?
Picaridin is “a synthetic compound first made in the 1980s. It was made to resemble the natural compound piperine, which is found in the group of plants that are used to produce black pepper.”
Oil of lemon eucalyptus, otherwise known as OLE, is “an oil extracted from the gum eucalyptus tree (native to Australia); the actual extracted chemical is called PMD and has demonstrated efficacy as an insect repellent.” When used as directed, repellent with an OLE base has been shown to work for approximately 7 hours without reapplying, but be careful with your children. Studies have only tested this product on adults, and the CDC doesn’t recommend using it on any children under the age of 3.
Our Choice for A Natural Bu Repellent: Greenerways Organic
Regardless of what kind of mosquito repellent you choose, there are some general rules that apply across the board. The CDC suggest that you always follow the usage instructions on the repellent label, reapply often (or as directed), and apply your sunscreen first before you spray any insect repellent. If you choose an insect repellent that is all-natural, it will typically contain botanical ingredients such as lemon grass, citronella, peppermint, geraniol, soybean, and rosemary.
If you are looking for a DEET-free bug repellant with staying power, we recommend Greenerways Organic Bug Repellent, which is available on Amazon here.
Remember, always practice safe habits during the buggy season. Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs when possible and avoid grassy areas especially during dusk and dawn or when it is extremely humid outside.