Mosquito Repellent: A Double Edged Sword?

Mosquitos occupy a large space in our lives, especially during outdoor trips and events. When it comes to getting rid of that buzzing noise, there are a number of commercial mosquito repellents available on the market. In all honesty, it is hard to imagine an evening barbecue without a visit from those tiny winged creatures. For years, people have tried in vain to vanquish them from their backyards. Every so often, a product comes along that seems to do the job but is it really worth it? What exactly is it that keeps the mosquitos at bay?


Developed by the United States Army and approved by the CDC, diethyltoluamide is one of the most effective and commonly used mosquito repellent. The Centers for Disease Control believes that the risk of mosquito born illness is greater than the risk of inhaling DEET. Known to be a potent skin, lung and eye irritant, DEET is not suitable for infants and needs to be washed off periodically. Although inhalation can cause respiratory issues, it has been deemed safe when used in products containing concentrations under 30%.

Alternatives to DEET

While it is difficult to deny that mosquito repellents containing DEET tend to work quite well, they may not be suitable for everyone. Individuals with sensitive skin, asthma and other health complications may need an alternative. Unfortunately, the options are limited. A couple acceptable substitutes do exist, however.


Studies have shown that icaridin can be just as effective as DEET. The difference, however, is that icaridin produces nearly the same results without the health risks. The Centers for Disease Control has approved icaridin for use in countries prone to disease outbreaks associated with mosquito bites. With no known side-effects, Icaridin offers a viable alternative to DEET and in some cases, may be superior.


Citronella is an oil extracted from lemongrass. The oil has long been used as this and recent studies have verified its effectiveness. While there are no known health risks associated with its use, citronella oil is only effective for short periods of time. In order to work as an effective mosquito repellent, citronella needs to be reapplied periodically and you should get soaking shower after applying this.

Is It Worth the Risk?

The majority of the products on the market today have proven to be effective mosquito repellents. The vast majority of them also contain a known irritant. It is correct to believe that the that contracting the Zika Virus or Dengue Fever would be much worse than the risks associated with DEET use but it is also important to know that there are effective alternatives readily available.

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