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Health and Fitness

A Guide to Mosquito Repellents

Will your skin react? What amount of mosquito repellent should you take? These are all common questions that we are asked regularly at the Gap Year Travel Store here, so we thought we would try to answer these FAQs in this post.

Which mosquito repellent do I need?

With so many different options to choose from, both DEET-based and natural, it can be a bit of a myfield choosing the right insect repellent for your destination. The risk of malaria and other tropical diseases can vary from one part of the country to another, so you have to be aware of the risks when choosing your mosquito repellent.

There are also currently high concentrations available, but as of 2017, new biocidal product regulations will mean that more than 50% of DEET repellents will no longer be available. You should also consider anti-malarial medicine in high-risk areas, so be sure to discuss this option with a GP or local travel clinic before travel.

Natural mosquito repellents are usually either Saltidin or Citriodiol, an ingredient derived from lemon eucalyptus. Natural repellents are much kinder to the skin than harsh DET repellents, so are popular among travelers with sensitive skin.

How much mosquito repellent do I need?

There are clearly some factors when buying your mosquito repellent, which you can see below…

  • Humidity and Hot Temperature – In hot and humid conditions, you are more likely to sweat and so it dilutes your repellent and it will evaporate at a faster rate. With this in mind, it is likely that you will need to reapply more regularly than the manufacturer’s recommended reapplication period … Therefore, you will use your repellent much faster.
  • Your Size – If you are taller or have a larger build, you will have a larger area to cover with repellent, so a larger than average size person will be needed!
  • Your Activity – Whether you are trekking through the rainforest or participating in other vigorous activities during your trip, you will sweat more than usual.

I am traveling with children, which mosquito repellent should I use?

High-strength repellents are not recommended for children, DEET concentrations of about 20–30% are suitable for use on children older than 2 years. The 50% DEET formula (and higher) should be avoided until your child is over 12 years old. Pyramid natural mosquito repellent is suitable for use on children over 6 months of age and contains citrodiol.

What can I use to prevent insect bites while traveling?

There are a number of insect protection products that you can use to avoid bites while traveling, and we recommend you as an extra protection from your mosquito repellent.

  • Wrist and ankle bands – Made from cloth or silicone material, mosquito repellent cream bands provide extra mosquito protection by creating a protective ‘halo’ around you. Both the DEET band and natural options are available. When you are not using them to prolong their lifespan, you can also place them in a re-sealable plastic bag.
  • Mosquito repellent plug-in mosquito repellent devices are another good way to provide additional protection from insects while traveling.
  • Mosquito nets – Mosquito nets fall into a range of different sizes to suit all types of accommodation while traveling, including wedge, ridge, box, and bell shapes. Always make sure that your net is treated with a good insecticide, such as permethrin, as it prevents pests from landing on your net. If you are going on a rainforest trek, you can consider mosquito net, as these help protect your face and neck from insect bites.

How do I apply a mosquito repellent?

You only need to apply mosquito repellent to the exposed areas of the skin, not the entire body. You should also not apply it to clothes, as chemicals can harm them. Special mosquito repellent spray are available, which can be used to treat clothing for extra protection. You should also take care to avoid applying repellant on irritated skin, cuts or wounds.

To apply mosquito repellent spray on your face, you should always spray a small amount on your hands and gently rub it on your face. Never spray your repellent directly on your face, as it carries a high risk of spraying in your eyes. Mosquito repellent gels and lotions are a good choice for easy application and waste less in the air than spray options.

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