Mosquito Repellents – Are They Safe?

6 min read

Mosquito Coil

  • What Are Mosquito Repellents?
  • Why Should You Use Mosquito Repellents?
  • Is It Safe To Use Mosquito Repellents?
  • Is It Safe To Use Mosquito Repellents During Pregnancy?
  • Tips To Use Mosquito Repellents During Pregnancy
  • Is It Safe To Use Mosquito Repellents with Babies and Infants?
  • Infant Safety From Mosquito Repellents
  • Using Mosquito Nets In Place Of Mosquito Repellents
  • Natural And Safe Mosquito Repellents

What Are Mosquito Repellents?

Mosquitoes are often termed as being pretty dangerous, and hence, when these pesky, blood sucking creatures are on the attack, you need to safeguard yourself and your families. Mosquito repellents are the most common way to keep these creatures at bay. Most mosquito repellents contain DEET, also known as N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, which has largely been administered as ‘safe’ when used as per instructions. However, off late, there has been a lot of controversy on the safety of these mosquito repellents. Some studies have linked these methods of warding off the mosquito to cancer. Also the mosquitoes have become resistant to the usual coils and mats. The traditional methods of keeping the mosquitoes, as simple as erecting mosquito nets is used sparsely. The GenX want quick and efficient methods of killing mosquitoes. Therefore, you might be aware of the 2-minute Fast Cards and 9-minute electric mosquito repellents booming proudly on the Television.

Why Should You Use Mosquito Repellents?

With all the hullabaloo caused by news raking up dengue deaths and the mosquito season approaching soon, it’s but natural to prep yourself to combat these tiny bloody creatures. Monsoon or no monsoon, a tropical country like India is constantly under attack by mosquitoes. Therefore,most of the households either light up mosquito repellent mats, coils or the electronic liquid vaporizers.

Is It Safe To Use Mosquito Repellents?

Coming to the safety, these mosquito repellents are used widely, day after day and have become an indispensable part of our Good Night routine. Most of us have grown into adults snuggling to sleep sniffing to the slight aroma of mosquito repellents. What about those who are not yet present this world or are on their way – yes the reference here is to the expecting moms, newborns and infants! Mosquitoes can be really annoying and they can be very dangerous. Research has it that chemicals in mosquito repellents are not safe to be inhaled and can cause serious breathing problems, or trigger allergic reactions. In large doses, these chemicals can be fatal to inhale and may even cause cancer.
Plug in mosquito repellents

Is It Safe To Use Mosquito Repellents During Pregnancy?

Mosquitoes can cause life-threatening diseases such as chikungunya, dengue and malaria. If these diseases are encountered during pregnancy, they can harm the fetus and health of the baby. When a repellent is directly applied to the skin in the form of cream or lotion, 5-10% of it gets directly absorbed into the blood stream and thus may reach the fetus. This is a very meagre amount and there are no side effects such as birth abnormalities due to this. However, care should be taken because some people may be allergic to DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), the very common active ingredient in repellents.
On the other hand, there has been a study which has linked use of the so-called safe DEET-based mosquito repellents in the first trimester and birth abnormality in male babies. Although the study is still in elementary stages, the condition called, Hypospadias (difficulty opening penis or foreskin) has been identified in male babies, whose mothers used repellents in the first three months of pregnancy.
Mosquito Sprays
The evidence is mixed, a study conducted in Thailand observed no harmful effects such as neurological or dermatological abnormalities in the babies whose mothers used mosquito repellents during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
So the basic idea is, if you must, use the repellents as per the written instructions and in moderation. Avoid using the chemical-based repellents during last critical months of pregnancy. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tips To Use Mosquito Repellents During Pregnancy

  • Try to cover maximum areas of body with clothing. Preferably, light colored, cotton clothes! Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors
  • Apply repellent to clothes and in surroundings rather than something directly onto your skin
  • Opt for natural or herbal remedies for getting rid of mosquitoes, such as burning earthen lamp containing neem oil or applying citronella oil
  • Do not spray anything that ends up on the face. The aerosol sprays can easily be inhaled and enter eyes

Is It Safe To Use Mosquito Repellents with Babies and Infants?

The cheap and easily available mosquito coils emit a lot of smoke and an unpleasant smell. This smoke may lead to various respiratory disorders such as asthma and cough along with allergic reactions. Also, since the doors and windows are closed during the night to prevent any nasty intruders and mosquitoes, the constantly burning coil may cause suffocation to young beings. Though many of them are safe for babies over 2 months of age, it is recommended not to use the same for babies less than 2 months. In fact, kids should not be exposed to mosquito repellents with more than 30% DEET.
If you are using a mosquito coil or a plug-in mosquito repellent, below safety tips must be exercised:
Mosquito nets

  • It always helps to use a product as per the instructions on the box
  • When you do use the repellent, make your baby sit or sleep in the other room
  • Do not sleep with the baby with the mosquito repellent burning all night
  • Make sure that you do not use a repellent more than once a day
  • Dress your baby in full sleeved, light color clothing as mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors
  • The easy to apply mosquito repellent creams are also available in the market. If you do use them, then use them on the clothes, and never on the skin
  • If using other mosquito repellents, do not spray them near their face
  • Also, do not apply anything on their hands or the things such as teething rings which they are most likely to taste!
  • Cover the babies as much as possible
  • Opt for fragrance-free baby products – perfume attracts mosquitoes!
  • For babies, consider applying cream on the clothes, rather than on the skin as the chemicals may irritate their delicate skin
  • The most important point is to thoroughly wash your hands with soap after handling the repellents. Never ever ingest these!

Infant Safety From Mosquito Repellents

Infants are great crawlers and explorers. The electric vaporizers if installed at low level may attract infants. These vaporizers emit mosquito repellents in the form of slightly aromatic smell in the air. The downside is that they heat up quite quickly and may pose a burning hazard to the infant if he touches it.

Using Mosquito Nets In Place Of Mosquito Repellents

Spare the babies and infants from these chemical overdose and purchase mosquito nets. Nowadays mosquito nets come in various colors, sizes and designs so you can easily incorporate them in your decor! The new generation of children is anyway turning out with weakened immune systems. They prefer to stay indoors, sit glued to the television or mobile phone screens. And the bacteria/virus strains are becoming increasingly resistant to drugs. Therefore, it is your responsibility to protect your kids as much as you can as anything you do may directly or indirectly harm them.
Natural Mosquito Repellents

Natural And Safe Mosquito Repellents

Some safe and natural mosquito repellents that can be used are:

  • Burning eucalyptus, lemongrass or citronella candles where the baby cannot reach them wards off the mosquitoes
  • Lavender candles can also help
  • Install mosquito meshes and use mosquito nets
  • Shift your tulsi plant near the window – yes, some plants prevent mosquitoes from buzzing around!
  • Burning earthen lamps containing neem oil also benefits in keeping the mosquitoes at a bay
  • Cut and sprinkle garlic on the outdoors living area, it is a very natural way to repel mosquitoes
  • Catnip is an effective mosquito repellent. Nepetalactone, one of its main active constituent, was found to be 10 times stronger than even DEET
  • Observe basic of rules of hygiene, no stagnant water, no filth and keep mosquitoes away from your dwelling!
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