Oil of lemon eucalyptus, a tree native to warm parts of Northeastern Australia, works well to repel insects, including mosquitoes. This natural repellent is popular with people who are concerned about the potential toxic effects of DEET and other chemical repellents.
According to the University of New Hampshire, lemon eucalyptus oil is as effective as low concentrations of DEET, the most popular chemical repellent. However, this oil's ability to repel insects decreases rapidly, requiring frequent reapplication.
Lemon eucalyptus oil is safe when applied directly to the skin or clothes, though some sensitive people may develop a rash or other reaction. Apply this oil in a small area first to make sure you won't react to the oil. The Centers for Disease Control recommends against using lemon eucalyptus oil on children younger than 3.
Natural eucalyptus oils may not be as effective as the chemically synthesized version, called PMD. Oils from natural sources often vary in their ability to repel insects. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln notes that natural eucalyptus oil has not been tested for safety. Most lemon eucalyptus oil insect repellents actually contain the synthetic oil.
- Centers for Disease Control: Updated Information Regarding Insect Repellents
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: What's the Scoop on Insect Repellents?
- University of New Hampshire: Insect Repellents
- Experimental and Applied Acarology: Acaricidal Effects of Corymbia Citriodora Oil Containing Para-Methane-3,8-diol Against Nymphs of Ixodes Ricinus
- Rx List: Lemon Eucalyptus
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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