Protection from the Elements

Bug Sprays and Insect Repellants

Insect repellent or commonly called “bug spray” is an important product that is used by millions of people. There are many different products and chemicals that compose bug spray. When used properly and frequently it is very effective in preventing insect bites, but if used improperly it can cause sickness and other health concerns.

The main chemicals that make bug sprays potent are DEET, indalone, Rutgers 612 (2-ethyl-1, 3-hexanediol), or dimethylphthalate (DMP). R-326 (di-n-propylisocinchomeronate) is another chemical which is useful against biting flies. Today, DEET has become the most familiar and most widely used chemical in sprays. Although it is effective, DEET can ruin clothing and plastic. Others dislike the distinctive smell and oily feel on the skin. There are many different brands and kinds of bug sprays out there but make sure that when you use bug spray to use it sparingly and find out which works best for you. Some tips on avoiding toxicity from insect repellents include

• Avoid use directly on sunburned skin.

• Apply repellent sparingly and only to exposed skin or clothing. Keep out of eyes.

• Avoid using high-concentration products on the skin, particularly on children.

• Use a lower concentration of DEET on pregnant women and small children.

• Never inhale or ingest repellents.

• Wear long-sleeved clothing and apply repellent to fabric rather than to skin.

• Repellent should NOT be used on children's hands because they are likely to rub their eyes with them or put them in their mouth.

• Children 2 and younger should not have insect repellent applied to their skin more than once in a 24-hour period.

• Wash repellent off your skin after the risk of being bitten by an insect is gone.

Despite all these cautions bug spray when used properly is highly effective. These insect repellents have been ranked number one in their respective categories by Consumer Research the winners include Cutter Advanced, 3M Ultrathon, Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, Bite Blocker. Some other top brands include OFF! Skintastic Family Care, OFF! Deep Woods, Buzz Away Extreme, and Burt’s Bee Herbal.

Cutter Advanced is the best overall performer as ranked by Consumer Research. The product uses an alternative insect-repellent ingredient, picaridin, which has been show to be as effective as lower-strength DEET. Reviewers say the 7% picaridin concentration protects against ticks and West-Nile carrying mosquitoes for about 2.5 hours per application. Cutter Advanced leaves the skin feeling clean and it is has an odorless scent. Also Picaridin insect repellent doesn't need to be washed off when you come back indoors, a big plus compared with insect repellents that use DEET. Cutter Advanced is considered safe for kids as young as two-months and is available in a spray or wipes. Overall it is a great buy that is safe for the whole family and doesn’t include all the other harsh chemicals.

3M Ultrathon is the best repellent for long periods or extreme conditions. It uses a special kind of DEET that isn't as easily absorbed into the skin, yet it is as effective as standard DEET formulas. Interestingly this insect repellent has been tested in jungle areas and is used by the U.S. armed forces. 3M Ultrathon is water resistant, protecting against ticks and flies as well as mosquitoes, for five hours or longer. U.S. experts recommend not using any DEET repellent on babies younger than two months. This is a great product for serious outdoorsmen who don’t like to mess around.

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus is the best natural mosquito repellent. If you prefer a non-chemical insect repellent, reviews say Repel Lemon Eucalyptus is effective against ticks for about 8 hours, keeping mosquitoes away for 4 to 6 hours. It's not equally effective for everyone, and is only to be applied twice daily. Most reviewers liked the scent and the way their skin felt after application. Mosquito repellents containing lemon eucalyptus oil are not recommended for kids under three years old, however. This is a smart product for people that are environment and herbal friendly, who don’t support chemicals.

Bite Blocker is the safest insect repellent for kids. It is considered safe for all ages and for pregnant women. Bite Blocker uses only food-grade plant-based ingredients including soybean oil and geranium oil. It is effective against black flies as well as mosquitoes and ticks. Protection time varies a lot among individuals, but averages 1.5 to 2 hours, and Bite Blocker is safe to reapply as needed. This is a child friendly product that should be in every home.

In conclusion insect repellents come in many forms including bottles, sprays, lotions, and from various compositions including chemicals and herbs. Yet they all accomplish the same goal, of protecting us from harmful insects. Prices range from $5 to $10 for varying ounces but insect repellent is well worth the price of keeping your family safe and protected! Make sure you discover the right product for you and use it appropriately.

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