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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Go for a combo of repellents to fight mosquitoes this season

Rhythma Kaul, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 28, 2014
First Published: 12:21 IST(28/4/2014) | Last Updated: 12:30 IST(28/4/2014)

Mosquitoes seem to have become resistant to repellents and buzzing defiantly almost everywhere you go.

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The good news is that these are not the ones that spread dengue and malaria.

“The size of these mosquitoes is large and their colour is also different. However, these are not meant to cause any serious harm because if that were the case, then we would have had been flooded with dengue, malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases,” said Dr Rommel Tikoo, senior consultant, department of internal medicine, Max Healthcare.

A bite from these mosquitoes usually leaves one with a bump, reddish skin tone and lots of itching. Experts say, considering no one component seems to work on these mosquitoes one must try to use a combination of different items.

Here is a list of measures that are known to keep these swarming blood-suckers at bay. You can go for the ones that best suit you.

The tried and tested ones
Most mosquito-repelling vaporizers, coils, creams and sprays, etc., have a component called DEET that is an effective chemical. The higher the amount of DEET in the repellent, longer does it help to keep mosquitoes away. However, experts claim that it may be effective but one needs to be careful while using, especially those who suffer from any respiratory illnesses.

“The amount used in products is usually safe but some people can still be allergic to it and can develop breathing difficulty or have aggravated asthma symptoms because of the strong smell, especially those who already have a history,” said Dr Vikas Maurya, respiratory physician, BLK Super-speciality Hospital.

“There may not be serious implications though unless someone drinks or swallows these products accidentally. Sometimes a person is allergic to only a particular product so we advise them to avoid it,” said Dr Maurya.

Befriend plants
On the contrary to what many believe about plants attracting mosquitoes, certain plants can actually help in keeping mosquitoes away. Experts vouch for the mosquito repellent property of plants such as citronella, neem, lavender, marigold, basil, lemongrass, garlic among a host of other plants and herbs. You are lucky if you have a garden to grow these plants, otherwise most of these can be grown even in pots.

“Plants are the natural way of repelling mosquitoes that saves a person from getting exposed to chemicals,” said Dr Tikoo.

These plants have a strong scent that prevents mosquitoes from coming near to them.

Light candles/incense sticks
Citronella is known to be an effective mosquito repellent, especially in its oil form. Several candle and incense stick manufacturers are making use of the citronella oil in their products that release a kind of fragrance in the air that acts as a repulsive agent for mosquitoes.

“Citronella (an ingredient) is known to be safe…but its efficacy is limited,” said Dr YK Gupta, head of the pharmacology department at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Oil massage helps
It may be a bit time consuming but it does help. According to the experts, directly applying oils extracted from plants that have mosquito repellent property can really help

“Oils extracted from plants such as neem, lavender, citronella, eucalyptus are absolutely safe for the skin; just that one should avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth after applying them. A liberal massage with one of these oils, mixed with a moisturizer suited for your skin type, on the exposed area can be useful,” said Dr Tikoo.

Medical literature says one should go for a combination of oils rather than just one type of oil. However, one needs to keep them away from infants.

Though it is still remains debatable, there are some who believe that eating lots of garlic also helps in keeping  mosquitoes away because of garlic’s pungent smell disliked by them .

Patches, wristbands for kids
Children these days are spotted wearing mosquito-repellent patches on their clothes or wristbands. Primary component that works as mosquito-repellent in them is citronella, which makes it safe and popular among children.

“You just have to stick them on the clothes like a band-aid,” said Neharika Pawar, 29, sales manager with a private firm who buys these patches in bulk before the start of mosquito season.


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