Insect Repellant Tips

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Should I use a sunblock-insect repellent combination?

Do not use a sunblock-insect repellent combination; apply them separately.

Since both sunblock and insect repellents come in a range of strengths and last for disparate periods of time, it is unclear how well either defense will work when combined in a single lotion or spray. Apply your sunblock first, then apply your insect repellent at least ten minutes later to preserve the effectiveness of both the sunblock and the insect repellent.

   
What are effective mosquito repellents?

Choose a insect repellent that is appropriate to your needs and safe for your age.

The most effective mosquito repellent available in the United States today is DEET. DEET was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1946, and has been an approved active ingredient in insect repellents since 1957. DEET is applied to the skin and forms a vapor barrier around your skin that blocks mosquitoes' ability to sense your presence.

Contrary to popular belief, the concentration of DEET in a product does not correlate to how well the product repels bugs. Rather, it indicates how long the repellent is effective. The higher the concentration, the longer it will work. Lower Concentration DEET products, in the 5-10% range, will last for two to four hours, and are well-suited to people who will be out of doors for a limited amount of time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that products used on children contain no more than 10% DEET. More concentrated products (20-100%) are good for people who will have prolonged exposure to areas with lots of insects, and for those people who are especially prone to bites. Hunters, fishermen and hikers are most likely to need these higher concentrations. Insect repellent for a day or evening at the beach probably needs to be no greater than 10%, unless you are in an area with a high risk for malaria, yellow fever or dengue fever.

   
What are some natural bug bite remedies?

Natural remedies can be very effective for treating insect bites.

Sometimes, insects will penetrate even the most effective chemical or natural insect repellents. If you do get bitten or stung, you can use several household and medicine cabinet items to relieve your discomfort and speed healing. Dab mosquito and other itchy bug bites with a cotton ball saturated with white vinegar to relieve itching. Doing the same with onion juice is a smelly, but also effective at relieving the urge to scratch. Another home remedy for itching is to dab the bite with a wet bar of soap and let it dry. To relieve the pain of a bee or wasp sting, apply a paste of baking soda and water to the site of the sting.

   
What are some natural insect repellents?

Precautionary steps and natural products can provide some protection from insect bites.

If you are wary of using strong chemical repellents, or if you find yourself in a situation where you do not have access to such insect repellents, there are steps you can take to make you more invisible to the bugs. The first thing is to remember that you want to remain unnoticed, so do not apply any products that create additional scents. Perfume, powders, and ever deodorants can alert begs to your presence and attract them. If you're camping or just spending a day on the beach, consider going au naturel and skip the beauty routine before you head out. The one exception to this rule is dryer sheets: for some reason, mosquitoes hate the scent of fabric softener sheets, so try tying one to your belt or beach bag for some added protection. Also, a solution of mint oil and rubbing alcohol will act as a natural insect repellent when you spray the mixture on before heading out.

   
Are there insect repellents that I can apply to my clothing and accessories?

Some insect repellents can be safely applied to clothing and other materials for added protection.

DEET is intended for use on your skin and can, in high concentrations, erode plastics and other synthetic materials. Therefore, you should not apply it to your clothing, backpack or other accessories. Permethrin, on the other hand, is safe to apply to most materials and will provide additional mosquito repellent properties against ticks and mosquitoes. Apply it to clothing, umbrellas, camping accessories and tents to create a repellent environment.

   
Why do I need to use an insect repellent?

Use an insect repellent to protect you and your family from insect bites.

Mosquitoes, ticks and other insects can certainly be a nuisance during outdoor activities, but their bites can be much more than a nuisance. At the most basic level, bug bites can cause annoying and sometimes painful itching. Children, in particular, find it hard not to scratch, and scratching bites can lead to scabs, scars, and skin infections. More dangerous still are mosquito and other insect-borne diseases, such as malaria and yellow fever in the tropics, and West Nile Virus, Rocky Mountain Fever, and Lyme Disease in parts of the United States. To protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes and ticks, use an insect repellent, cover up as much of your skin as you can when walking through tall grasses or the woods, and check your body thoroughly for ticks and mosquito bites when you are finished.

   
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Carma Spence-Pothitt