• Insect Repellant - Topical: Proprietary Product Containing Soybean Oil and Germanium Oil, Proprietary Bath Lotions,
• Insect Repellant - Local: Citronella Candles and Incense
• Insect Repellant - Oral:
• Insect Bites: Topical Creams Containing Such Herbs as
• Sonic Wrist Strap Repellants,
Insects are the most successful group of creatures on earth, greatly outdoing mammals in number of species and sheer mass of life. Furthermore, despite great effort, human attempts to eliminate certain insects, such as mosquitoes, have utterly failed. In insects, it appears, humans have met their match.
When it comes to the more mundane level of avoiding insect bites, however, our species is doing a bit better. The chemical DEET (N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide), found in almost all insect repellants, is highly successful especially against mosquitoes, flies, fleas, and ticks.
Contrary to popular belief, DEET appears to be a very safe substance when used in a normal fashion. After many decades of use by millions of people, use of DEET has only been associated with a small number of adverse reactions, and those side effects that have been reported seem to represent unusual personal responses rather than toxicity in the ordinary sense.
Medical treatment for bites that have already occurred consists primarily of soothing topical treatments.
Proposed Natural Treatments
Due to fears about the safety of DEET (probably unfounded), many natural products have been marketed as safer substitutes. However, while some of these may be effective to a certain extent, none matches the power of the chemical.
One of the best of these appears to be a proprietary product containing soybean oil and geranium oil. In a small but well-designed study, this product, when applied to the skin, prevented insects from biting for an average of about 90 minutes. 2
Proprietary bath lotions marketed to repel insects do not appear to provide more than a slight level of bite protection (unless DEET is added to them).
Wrist bands impregnated with mosquito repellants do not appear to offer more than marginal efficacy.
For people who have already been bitten, topical creams containing such herbs as
For a discussion of homeopathic approaches to insect bites and stings, see the
3. Magnon GJ, Robert LL, Kline DL, et al. Repellency of two deet formulations and Avon Skin-So-Soft against biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) in Honduras. J Am Mosq Control Assoc . 1991;7:80–82.
8. Lindsay LR, Surgeoner GA, Heal JD, Evaluation of the efficacy of 3% citronella candles and 5% citronella incense for protection against field populations of Aedes mosquitoes. J Am Mosq Control Assoc . 1996;12:293–294.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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