Believe it or not, mosquitoes are the deadliest creatures in the world, claiming millions of lives every year with a variety of diseases like dengue and malaria. There is obviously a need to protect yourself from these small yet dangerous insects. Can essential oils help – are essential oils effective against mosquitoes?
Why you should use essential oils for mosquitoes
When it comes to mosquito protection, the first thing that springs to mind is DEET. This is an active ingredient that helps repel various biting insects, including mosquitoes and ticks. Products that contain this active ingredient can come in many forms, such as lotions, sprays, and even roll-ons.
Even though these products are effective and safe, there are studies out there that reveal some of the health risks associated with them. If you are visiting an area that puts you at high risk of catching mosquito-borne diseases, DEET products may be your best bet. But for less risky areas, like when you are taking a random hike or staying at home, natural repellents like essential oils may be enough.
Essential oils work because they have natural ingredients that repel mosquitoes. These ingredients work by blocking mosquito receptors, making you hard to find. Another great thing about essential oils is that they smell good.
How to use essential oils as a mosquito repellent
Essential oils are extracts from plants, capturing the plants’ characteristics like their scent, flavor, or “essence.” Depending on the plant used, they can ease stress, improve mood, relieve pain, and many other supposed health benefits.
You can use certain essential oils as a mosquito repellent. But you should never put them on your skin directly in their pure forms. They need to be diluted in a carrier oil to make them less concentrated. The FDA is also not particulary strict when it comes to essential oils. Make sure to buy from reputable sources only to prevent problems – always read the instructions on the labels.
Here is how to properly use essential oils as a mosquito repellent:
- Dilute the mosquito-repelling essential oil in a carrier oil like almond, avocado, coconut, and jojoba oil.
- Test the solution in a small and isolated patch of skin, like the back of your hand.
- If you see some kind of irritation in this small area, don’t use the solution to the rest of your body.
- Consider contacting a healthcare professional if irritation occurs.
- If no irritation occurs, apply the solution to the exposed skin where mosquitoes may bite you, but avoid sensitive areas like around the eyes.
Remember that essential oils can be very potent, and in some cases can cause irritation and other skin problems. With that said, they can be effective in doing their job – repelling mosquitoes.
Effective essential oils for mosquitoes
When it comes to essential oils as home remedies, you don’t always hear about catnip – unlike lavender and tea tree that always seem to make it to the top ten essential oils list! But don’t underestimate this mint-based oil. There is even a study saying that it can even be more effective than DEET!
Citronella oil is one of the most popular DIY mosquito repellents out there, and there is a good reason for that. It repels not just mosquitoes, but also other pests like fleas and head lice. The downside is that it has a very tricky formulation. If the formulation isn’t right, it can evaporate quickly and leave you vulnerable to mosquitoes.
Lavender oil is a popular home remedy, not just for repelling mosquitoes, but also for a variety of other uses. It doesn’t just have mosquito-repelling effects. It also has analgesic, antifungal, and antiseptic properties that can calm and soothe the skin.
Lemon eucalyptus oil
The CDC acknowledges lemon eucalyptus oil as a mosquito repellent, but only its synthesized version that can be found in popular brands – like OFF!® and REPEL®. This oil is extracted from the lemon eucalyptus tree. So, it’s not just effective in repelling mosquitoes. It is also fragrant because of its lemon scent.
Peppermint is another herb from the mint family that can repel mosquitoes. Its oil also has a soothing effect, so it can help ease the itch of mosquito bites. This may also be the ideal repellent for uncooperative children because of its fragrant and soothing effect. But remember to perform the irritation test, especially on children with sensitive skin.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is originally known for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. But according to recent studies, it also has insect-repelling effects. It’s said to be effective against biting midges, bush flies, and mosquitoes.
Essential oils are not perfect
Essential oils are popular mosquito repellents. You can find a lot of articles about them online. But they are not perfect. They have their shortcomings that make other repellents more attractive.
- They are not allowed to make drastic claims. There are a lot of commercial repellents out there that are based on essential oils. But sadly, the EPA doesn’t allow them to make claims that they can control diseases. They can’t claim that they can “control mosquitoes that can transmit malaria,” but they can claim that they can “control mosquitoes.” Proven products like DEET-based repellents don’t have the same restrictions.
- They are not stable. Essential oils are volatile. They easily evaporate and lose their effectiveness. Studies suggest that some essential oil repellents can only offer mosquito protection for about 20 minutes or less. You will have to constantly reapply the repellents every few minutes to sustain their benefits.
- They are not as strong as other proven products. Even if you constantly reapply the repellents, they may still not be very effective because of how essential oils work in the first place. They only block a small range of mosquito receptors, making them inherently weaker repellents compared to products with DEET.
Use essential oils for mosquitoes
Essential oils may be able to help you repel mosquitoes. They are accessible, fragrant, and natural. Just make sure to dilute the essential oils and buy only from reputable sources to minimize risks. These repellents have their downsides too. They may not be super effective and stable on your skin.
At the end of the day, we all just want mosquito protection. And essential oils are just some of the choices out there.