There are several options to protect yourself from mosquitoes while you’re camping. One of the most common methods is using a repellent, although the synthetic chemical ingredients DEET and picaridin are present in most repellents. Because these substances can be harmful in large doses, always use the least amount and lowest concentration possible. Most insect repellents that offer over 50% DEET or picaridin offer very little benefit over a lesser concentration and can have ill effects on health. Another option is the insecticide permethrin, which can be used to treat clothes and gear, but not skin. A more natural option is citronella, which is a plant oil and natural insecticide. Citronella oil can be applied to the skin, but the protection is short-term compared to chemical repellents. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is another natural plant oil that is a safe alternative to chemical repellents. Of course, wearing protective clothing that completely covers your arms and legs is also important in protecting against mosquitoes.
Both Cutter and Repel make excellent products with a naturally based Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus active ingredient.
A slew of mosquito repellent available at any drugstore. However, I would caution you against using one with DEET in it; DEET is known to cause significant brain cell death in lab rats. Instead, look for one containing citronella oil, peppermint oil, or lemongrass oil. Taking vitamin B1 or eating foods rich in B1 will also help but be sure to avoid salty foods. Also, wear light colored clothing, avoid pools of standing water, and wipe away any perspiration on exposed skin.
As previous posters have mentioned, there are many synthetic mosquito repellents featuring DEET. The Environmental Protection Agency has found DEET to be safe if used correctly and in proper amounts, yet natural repellents are healthier. Citronella is a popular plant extract repellent, and some folk remedies pin garlic as an effective defense. In the link below, scientists are actually describing the possibility of using natural human chemicals to defend against mosquitos.
However, when camping, you should make sure to do more than just use repellent. Stay away from mosquito-infested areas, especially at dusk. Don’t leave open water containers around, as these are mosquito breeding grounds. And of course, make sure to bring clothing with long sleeves and pants to offer you more protection.
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