Your Summer Bug Repellent Guide: What You Need To Know
In the midst of the pandemic and other alarming issues we've been facing in 2020, the basics of bug-repelling have become a peripheral issue. But, tis the season and we need to be prepared. Especially now that we're hearing rumors of a potentially deadly mosquito-borne infection brewing in the Northeast U.S. That's what we need. Another plague.
Some experts claim the pest problem may be even worse this year, due to climate change. We've got to do all we can to defend against ticks and mosquitoes and the heinous diseases they may carry.
More than ever, it's important to get up to speed on the various repellents you need to keep your family safe this summer. Sadly, insects do not respect our social distancing rules. At the same time, we're all doing our best to be knowledgeable about the active chemicals in these repellents. Here are a few you'll want to know about:
Let's talk about Deet. It first came to be back in 1946 and was used by the United States military. I could give you the fancy official name, but here's the deal: It's one of the most common ingredients you'll find in insect repellents today. In fact, according to Consumer Reports, it's "considered so effective that it's often used as a standard for comparison when evaluating the effectiveness of newer insect repellents."
It's very effective and probably the most reliable insect-repelling ingredient you can find. Aim for products that contain between 15 and 30 percent DEET. But, is it safe to use? There were studies done in the '80s that found some kids had seizures after exposure to the chemical. Thankfully, it was very rare. But, as with any product--use as directed to do so. Other potential issues could include rashes or blisters--especially if you used too much. So, take it easy.
Then, there's Picaridin. Much newer than Deet, this chemical has been used since 2005. Most repellents containing picaridin have about a 20% concentration and have generally done well when tested by experts. By far, though, the repellents made with this substance that are sprays seem to do much better than lotions or wipes. Researchers aren't quite sure why, though. Be careful, as with any chemical substance. Keep it away from your eyes and always use as directed.
Have you tried Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus [OLE]? It sounds natural, doesn't it? This is actually a synthetic created from the plant itself. So, it is NOT to be confused with essential oil, so please be careful. If you find a spray with a 30% concentration, it should be pretty effective--but you'll notice it's not specified to be used to defend against ticks, which are known to carry Lyme Disease. It also hasn't been studied as thoroughly as some of the others. People are advised not to use this product on a youngster under the age of three.
What about essential oils? I love these. If I could find a way to use them in lieu of most chemicals, I would. You've likely heard much about repellents containing citronella, geranium, or others. There's a preconceived notion that all essential oils are always the safer choice. What do experts say? Some essential oils can still cause irritation to the skin and they haven't all performed as well as the more traditional repellents in defending against the onslaught of bugs. Even citronella candles haven't always proven effective in testing.
So what are some of the highest recommended repellents on the market today? Thankfully, Consumer Reports has studied many and has assembled a helpful guide for you here.