Picaridin in Insect Repellents: A Safer Alternative to Keeping Mosquitoes Away
Dengue cases are fast rising once again. Learn more about your options when it comes to insect repellents and how alternatives such as picaridin-based formulations may be a safer choice to keeping the entire family mosquito and dengue-free.
Dengue in the Philippines: Numbers Fast Rising As of Oct 11, 2010, dengue cases in the Philippines have reached to 98,934 patients, 135% higher than in the past year. With impending rains expected until the first quarter of 2011, DOH has already warned Filipinos against a potential 2nd wave of this dreaded disease.
Insect Repellents: Are they safe? Most people use insect repellent for safety and protection from mosquitoes, but few question the safety of the insect repellent itself. To ensure that they are protected, users need to choose the correct type of repellent and carefully follow label instructions during application.
Insect repellent should be applied by adults or with adult supervision. They should be applied sparingly on skin, avoiding sensitive areas like eyes, mouths, open wounds, and on sunburned skin.
Insect repellents work by either masking human scent or by emitting a scent that insects avoid. In the Philippines, repellent comes in various formulas – DEET, citronella, and now, Picaridin.
DEET-Based Repellents: The good and the bad. DEET (N,N-diethyl-metatoluamide), the most commonly used insect repellent ingredient worldwide, has been proven to be effective in repelling insects through its unpleasant smell. In the local market, DEET is available in concentrations of 7.5% to 25%, with effectiveness ranging from 3 hours to 8 hours. Although highly effective against insects, DEET’s strong odor and chemical content make it unappealing and harmful for frequent application, especially on children. Only 7.5% DEET concentration at the maximum can be applied on children 4 years and above. Moreover, for children, reapplication cannot go beyond three times a day. DEET-based repellents have to be washed off after use, as they can damage plastics, paints, and synthetic fabrics.
Other insect repellent alternatives Because of the potential toxicity of DEET-based repellents, citronella sprays and patches have entered the market. The plant-based citronella repellents provide for shorter protection time than regular insect repellent, but claim to be safer than DEET-based repellents. However, some studies show that it is generally not advised to apply citronella directly on skin as it may irritate skin and cause dermatitis.
Click here to learn more about safer alternatives for insect repellents.