||VAWN HIMMELSBACH, Chic Savvy Travels
Considering that DEET can eat a hole through Gore-Tex (it’s a solvent, which means it can dissolve plastics and synthetic fibers), I’m not that keen to slather it all over my body. Yet the alternative — being eaten alive by mosquitoes — isn’t all that appealing either.
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Aside from the agony of itchy, scratchy bites, mosquitoes are also responsible for the spread of all kinds of not-so-fun diseases, from malaria to dengue fever. Pop all the malaria pills you want, but there’s no shot for dengue fever.
Mosquitoes seem to love me, and as a result I’ve tried all sorts of DEET and non-DEET mosquito repellents on the market. While everyone’s body chemistry is different (so what works for me might not work for you), here are a few alternative products I’ve tested out, with mixed results:
On a recent trip to Panama, I brought along a citronella-based mosquito repellent, Druide’s Citronella Insect-Repellent Lotion. It seemed to be working the first time I applied it, though after falling asleep in a hammock I awoke to itchy, scratchy bites. With citronella, it’s recommended to reapply every half an hour, so I found this product did a decent job but I had to regularly reapply it. I also smelled like a citronella candle. But it’s safe for the environment, and you can spray it on your clothes without ruining them; Druide also sells citronella-based soap, shampoo and shower gel.
Other natural products worth checking out include Quantum Health Buzz Away (with essential oils; also good for fleas, gnats and flies), Butterfly Weed Herbals Away in the Bush Citronella Body Oil (with eucalyptus, lemongrass and lavender), and eco.kid Outback Jack bug spray (with a blend of indigenous oils from Australia). Or, you can make your own: Try a combination of eucalyptus and lemon oils, or cedarwood oil.
On the same trip, I also tested out Avon Skin So Soft, a lightly scented body lotion that has a reputation as an effective bug repellent — it’s used by outdoorsmen and even the military (supposedly British troops used it in Iraq and Afghanistan). I was skeptical, but I was impressed with the results — it actually worked, and it didn’t leave a greasy film on my skin. The only downside is that the bottle is gigantic.
One of my favourite alternative products is Cactus Juice Outdoor Protectant, though I’m having a hard time finding it in Canada anymore (you can order it online). Made from an extract of the prickly pear cactus in Honduras, it repels mosquitoes and sand flies, and has a light, pleasant scent. One version includes a sunscreen (SPF 20), so it’s a great dual-purpose product for traveling. I used it all over Asia, with great success. Now if only retailers would start bringing it to Canada again.
Tiger Balm helps to take the itch out of a bite, so on one trip I got the brilliant idea to use it as a mosquito repellent — and slathered it over my entire body. Not only did I get the chills (it’s a muscle relaxant, after all), but I also reeked of menthol and camphor. Sure, it scared away the mosquitoes, but it also scared away everything else within a 10-metre radius. I don’t recommend this.
So if you want to protect your skin, clothing and gear — and the environment — from DEET, there are plenty of great alternatives out there, and some even have the stamp of approval from Health Canada.
Got any recommendations? Send us a comment, email us at email@example.com or Tweet us @ChicTravels.
Copyright @ 2011 Chic Savvy Travels
Date Added: October 16, 2011 | Comments (0)
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