How to Choose: Mosquito Repellents

The tropical weather in Malaysia allows mosquitoes to breed quickly. Dengue is a viral disease that can be pandemic. Meaning it can spread quickly if steps are not taken to control it. To prevent dengue, one may take the following precautions:

  • Prevent the breeding grounds for mosquitoes
  • Wear long-sleeved clothes to cover any exposed skin 
  • Use of mosquito nets during rest times
  • Use of insect repellents.

This article serves to elaborate on 5 types of mosquito repellents and to inform the public on how to choose a mosquito repellent:

#1: DEET

What is it? DEET refers to the active ingredient N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide. DEET was developed for the military for the protection of mosquito bites in insect-infested areas. Metofluthrin is classified as a Class IV pesticide in Malaysia.

How effective is it? The concentration of DEET in products ranges from 5-99%. Research shows that the higher the concentration, the longer the protection DEET provides. 

Are there side effects? Possible side effects are skin irritation, redness, rash and swelling. It is recommended to be applied to clothing rather than on skin.  

Can it be used on children? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the use of DEET on babies less than 2 months old. 

Safety during pregnancy? DEET is able to cross the placenta. However, no birth defects were reported from the use of DEET.

Products: OFF!

#2: IR3535

What is it? IR3535 refers to the active ingredient 3-[N-Butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester. 

How effective is it? It is effective against mosquitoes, sand flies, ticks, lice, flies and bees. The concentration of IR3535 in products ranges from 6-20%. 

Are there side effects? It may cause eye irritation if the chemical enters the eye. It is otherwise considered a safe product. 

Can it be used on children? It is considered safe for children. The use of 20% of IR353 on children younger than 3.5 years should be restricted to once a day. This product can be applied to the patient’s arm, hands, legs and face. However, it should not be applied to the hands as one may accidentally rub the eyes. 

Safety during pregnancy? There are no human studies. Animal studies indicate that the application of IR3535 does not lead to birth defects.

Products: BioZ

#3: Eucalyptus Oil

What is it? It is a natural ingredient derived from eucalyptus plants. It can be applied directly to human skin and clothing.  

How effective is it? It is effective against mosquitoes under the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). It is also traditionally used as a natural mosquito repellent in Australia.  

Are there side effects? It may cause eye irritation if the chemical enters the eye. It is otherwise considered safe.

Can it be used on children? It is considered safe for children. This product can be applied to the patient’s arm, hands, legs and face. However, it should not be applied to the hands as one may accidentally rub the eyes. 

Safety during pregnancy? There are no human studies. Animal studies indicate that the application of Eucalyptus oil does not lead to birth defects.

Products: Euky Bear, Kangaroo Brand, Minyak Kayu Putih, Charm Baby Mosquito Spray.

#4 Citronella Oil

What is it? Citronella oil is a natural product. It is derived from lemongrass, this plant is known as “Serai” in Malaysia. It is a very common plant and there are various products containing this ingredient readily available in Malaysia. It exudes a pleasant fragrance and is considered safe.    

How effective is it? This product repels mosquitoes, ticks and black flies. This product lacks efficacy studies, therefore the effectiveness can vary from product to product. 

Are there side effects? It is considered safe.

Can it be used on children? It is considered safe for children. 

Safety during pregnancy? There are no human studies. However, it is considered safe to use.

Products: Gramps ByeBye Nyamuk, Tigerbalm Mosquito Repellent, Clovers Mosquito patch, Charm Baby Mosquito Spray.

#5 Metofluthrin

What is it? Metofluthrin is classified as a Class IV pesticide in Malaysia. This product is more suitable for indoors rather than for the outdoors. 

How effective is it? It evaporates easily and the effects are long-lasting. This product is proven to be able to kill mosquitoes.

Are there side effects? This product should not be sprayed directly on the skin. The recommended use of Mozone spray is to spray on the corners of the room ceiling. Leaving the door closed, and only to re-enter after 5 minutes. Exposure may lead to eye irritation.  

Can it be used on children? Exposure to infants should be minimized. 

Safety during pregnancy?  Exposure to expectant mothers should be minimized.

Products: Mozone spray, Fumakilla or Shieldtox Mosquito Coil

Reference:

  1. Dengue. Department of Occupational Safety and Health. Ministry of Human Resource. (Web accessed February 2020) Weblink: http://www.dosh.gov.my/index.php/osh-info-2/occupational-health/1547-dengue
  2. Choosing and Using Insect Repellents. National Pesticide Information Center. (Web accessed February 2020)  Weblink: http://npic.orst.edu/ingred/ptype/repel.html
  3. Metofluthrin. Pesticide Fact Sheet. (September 2006). US Environmental Protection Agency.
  4. XMOS. Frequently Asked Questions. (One Dream. (Web accessed FEbruary 2020). Weblink: http://www.onedream.com.my/index.php?ws=pages&pages_id=7919