Many mainstream insect repellents can contain DEET (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide) or picaridin (hydroxyethyl isobutyl piperidine carboxylate). If you are looking to avoid these chemicals, there are a range of natural alternatives to you can try.
Why do some people get bitten more than others?
No one likes an itchy bite, and if you're more susceptible than others, you'll want a mozzie repellent that works. Why are some people a mozzie's dream meal when others are left alone? The smell you emit to mosquitoes may entice them to land on you. Your natural scent can attract mosquitoes, plus some fragrances and deodorants. Mosquitoes can also sense the carbon dioxide you breathe out, as well as your body temperature (warmth) and humidity 1. Since you can't really change your breathing, scent, or body temperature, all we can do is try to mask your location, or use sprays to deter this little pests.
Do natural and chemical based repellents work differently?
Bug repellents work by masking these chemical giveaways that entice mozzies to head your way. You'll find most mainstream insect repellents contain DEET (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide) or picaridin (hydroxyethyl isobutyl piperidine carboxylate) 2. But there are natural alternatives to seek out, which don't use these chemicals.
Active ingredients in natural mosquito repellents
We've all used something with citronella in it – traditionally used as an anti-bug scent, but oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (also known as PMD) has been shown to be a very effective repellent 3 and comes from a natural source. It is a by-product of the essential oil of lemon-scented gum, and is an ingredient endorsed by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA. Other essential oils such as lavender, cinnamon, thyme, catnip oil 4 can help to ward off unwanted critters, and smell far nicer than the usual chemical sprays. Of course, these natural alternatives only deter creepy crawlies, rather than poisoning them.
Natural products that are designed to repel insects
Biologika Bug Another Insect Repellent Spray
Biologika Bug Another Insect Repellent Spray contains a cocktail of essential oils (citronella, lavender, lemon myrtle, peppermint, sage etc) so it smells fresh, deters insects, and is safe to be used by all ages. This combination of herbs, as well as deterring insects have antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial properties. The addition of soothing Aloe Vera means your skin is kept cool and comfortable on those hot steamy days.
Bug-grrr Off Natural Insect Repellent - Jungle Strength Formula Spray
This very popular repellent; Bug-grrr Off Natural Insect Repellent is very effective and was formulated for hot and humid "Jungle" like conditions. This is a long lasting spray, you should only need to reapply around 6 hours after your first application. Designed to repel many different kinds of insects, including mosquitoes, black flies, sand flies and midges this one smells so refreshing with its main ingredient of Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
What if you do get bitten?
Ouch! Instant Herbal Sting Relief
Scented with Peppermint, Lime and Clove you'll be looking for reasons to spray yourself with this 5 Star Rated cooling spray! So small and compact in the same kind of size and shape as a credit card, Ouch! Instant Herbal Sting Relief fits easily in your pocket for emergency access. Simply spray over the offending bite from mosquitoes, midges, bluebottles, sea lice and jellyfish and go on with your day!
Weleda Burns & Bites Cooling Gel
More than just a bite gel, the Weleda Burns & Bites Cooling Gel is a beach, camping, home and handbag essential. It contains Urtica Urens which is traditionally used in homoeopathic medicine to help soothe and relieve irritation of itchy skin rashes, as well as a blend of natural herbs and extracts with anti-inflammatory action to help reduce the swelling and pain of insect bites.
If symptoms persist consult your healthcare practitioner. Always read the label. Use only as instructed. Contains ethanol. For the treatment of burns, immediate treatment should consist of the rapid application of cold water for a suitable period and the product should only be applied afterwards. The product is for the first-aid treatment of minor burns only and medical advice should be sought for the treatment of more serious burns.
Source: 1 ABC, 2 Medline Plus, 3 The Conversation, 4 Healthline.