What is the best mosquito repellent?

Mosquito repellent is important because mosquitoes can carry many dangerous diseases. Things like West Nile virus and malaria are spread by mosquitoes, and most doctors recommend that you do everything you can to avoid getting these conditions by keeping mosquitoes away from you. There have been numerous reviews of the types of mosquito repellant that work best, and experts generally conclude that the most effective mosquito repellant is one that contains DEET.

DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is not only helpful in repelling mosquitoes, but also in keeping away other insects like ticks that can carry Lyme disease. It confuses most insects by masking the carbon dioxide odor that the body naturally emits, attracting insects. DEET must be used correctly and in appropriate concentrations. A higher concentration level tends to translate into a longer lasting insect repellant.

For people who can't or prefer not to use DEET, there are some alternative mosquito repellant ingredients. They have some efficacy, but are still not as effective as DEET. However, some are safe enough to be used on younger children. One of these is piperidine or picaridin. The US Centers for Disease Control lists this substance as a viable alternative to DEET.

Picaridin is derived from pepper and has been approved for use in the US since 2005. It is available in some versions of Avon® Skin So Soft lotions, and is also sold as Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent. Although this mosquito repellant is not as effective as DEET, it can be used on babies two months and older, and it has an odor that many people find pleasant or at least less unpleasant than DEET. Some claim that picaridin is as effective as DEET, but these claims are difficult to prove because both chemicals can be used at different concentration levels.

Other mosquito repellant formulations that continue to rank below DEET include things like lemongrass, citronella, and eucalyptus oil. While these may have some effectiveness, they are still not the best. However, some people prefer to use more natural substances or cannot use DEET as a mosquito repellant due to skin irritation or the potential to damage things like plastic.

If you need to use a milder mosquito repellant than DEET, you can avoid times when mosquitoes are typically most active. Typically, in the hours just before and after sunrise and sunset, you'll find the most mosquitoes. However, in some climates, especially humid or tropical ones, and in some areas near water, you may also find many mosquitoes at other times of the day.

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