Mosquitoes, at best, carry a bite that can cause pain, itching and skin discoloration. At worst, mosquitoes carry deadly diseases. These pests haunt humid areas, especially in the summertime, and look for warm blood in animals such as humans to feed on. Several lotions exist that can make the human body unpalatable to mosquitoes.
Based on an organic repellent, citronella products such as citronella candles and citronella oil are often used to keep mosquitoes from porches and away from outdoor restaurant tables. Citronella is also available in lotions that blend citronella grass with lemon grass and other organic oils and extracts. These products are nontoxic and do not contain man-made chemicals. The smell of citrus that emanates from citronella-based lotions is the basis for its effectiveness and because of this, lotion must be reapplied often. Citronella is mild enough for children older than 6 months.
Many mosquito-repellent lotions use petrochemicals that are chemically engineered to repel mosquitoes as well as other pests. Products such as 3M's Ultrathon use several polymers and alcohols including propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol to form a chemical barrier that repels mosquitoes. Avon's Skin So Soft Bug Guard lotion uses ethyl and butylacetylaminopropionate acid in a similar fashion, making it uncomfortable for mosquitoes to so much as land on the body of a person wearing the product. These chemicals, while extremely effective, are more harsh than citronella-based chemicals and should not be used on young children.
Another very common repellent, DEET is found in products such as Enforcer. These are applied in high-risk areas such as those where West Nile virus is prevalent. The active ingredient in DEET is a chemical compound called diethyltoluamide, a man-made, alcohol-based chemical that works in the same way as petrochemicals, forming a barrier around the user that causes discomfort to biting insects such as mosquitoes. Available in lotions, sprays and oils, DEET is approved by the EPA for use in children as young as 2 months old.
Oil from the neem tree has natural insecticidal and repellent properties and is an organic alternative to harsher, man-made chemicals such as DEET and petrochemicals. Neem oil also has moisturizing properties and is available in lotions not only for insect repellent but also for skin care. Neem oil lotion's insect-repellent power is, like citronella, based on its scent.
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