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While the scare of mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika as the latest, the need for mosquito-repellants is very high, but so is the concern around the effects of chemical-based mosquito repellants. The chemical based deodorizers and the coils, are known to induce breathing-related allergies, coughs, nasal irritations etc in children and adults alike. But the market also has a host of natural mosquito repellants that are both safe and effective. Here we get you some of the best ones to try.
Neem oil: An indigenous plant of India, Neem is known for its many benefits and now it is also actively getting touted as a mosquito repellant. According to a study by the US National Research Council, neem oil is a very effective and can be used to keep the pesky insects away. Easily available at most chemist shops, and pharmacies, dilute a few drops of concentrate of Neem oil in other natural oils such as coconut, and apply on the exposed part of the body.
Citronella: A very well-researched herb, citronella is derived from a species of lemon grass, the smell of which is known to drive away mosquitoes. Infact, most popular brands such as Odomos, FabIndia, and Forest Essentials have citronella-based insect sprays or creams in their product line. Check them out!
Clove oil: Clove oil traditionally is known to keep children safe from mosquito bites. Since, mostly a concentrate of the same is available in the market, it is advisable to mix it with coconut oil and then apply on the skin, especially of a small child.
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil (OLE): A very well-researched mosquito repellant, OLE is known to have an effect as powerful as a chemical-based mosquito repellant. If you read the labels, you will find it listed as an ingredient in most natural insect repellants. But the efficacy of the essential oil is still not proven in fighting off mosquitoes. Therefore try the insect-repellant version.
Mustard Oil: It is a popular belief in India that applying mustard oil helps keep mosquitoes away. There is no research to support this claim, yet it can be tried as it is an easily available and quick option.
But remember, that these oils will not provide protection for very long hours. They will need to be reapplied after 2-3 hours. Here are some other suggestions to try:
1) Make your child wear full sleeve clothes and cover her legs too when outdoors.
2) With very small babies if you are wary of applying the repellant directly on the skin, apply it on the pram, clothing, or simply on a napkin and place that napkin, near the baby.
3) While you may be using mosquito repellants, still it is advisable that during peak mosquito hours such as dusk, keep children indoors if possible.
4) The best mosquito repellant known so far is the humble mosquito net. Use it.