Apart from a good spray around your home with insecticides (which smell nasty and must not get into your kids’ eyes or noses) there are alternatives such as citronella oil/insect-repellent oil of lemon eucalyptus/catnip oil — these are all “natural” products that try to cover up your scent so mosquitos can’t “sniff” you out (your mileage may vary).
Remember that oils should not be applied directly to your skin and not on children under age 3 and need to be refreshed every hour or two. Also note that “pure” oil of lemon eucalyptus isn’t the same as the insect-repellent version…which is what you need.
If you’re wondering about DEET, it was developed by the USDA, is effective and has been around for some 50 years. Recent innovations that have been tested to be highly effective also are picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
And of course there are the good old mosquito coils (such as Shieldtox).
*Remember that if applying any spray, don't spray too close to your child's skin, and do not let it get into eyes or the nose and mouth or on any open wounds.
Precautions to take especially if pregnant
- Wear light-coloured long-sleeved clothes when outside.
- Use mosquito netting around your bed, or insect screens at your windows.
- Avoid using perfume or scent — especially if it’s fruity/floral as it may attract mosquitos.
- Carbon dioxide in your breath and lactic acid from your skin and sweat both also attract mosquitos so where possible, wipe down quickly after exercising.
- Mask your scent with essential oils or with some of the following mosquito repellents from Watsons, Guardian or your well-stocked neighbourhood supermarkets...
Take a look at our roundup of effective and safe repellents for adults, pregnant women and children...
OFF! Active Sweat Resistant Insect Repellent 170g
FROM Watsons and Guardian Pharmacies
Spray it on from about 15–20cm away. This is a DEET spray and is quite effective and stays on cotton, wool and nylon. It’s meant to be long-lasting and should not stain.
OFF! Clip-On Mosquito Repellent
This battery-powered gadget has a little fan that slowly blows the chemical — metofluthrin — around you. It’s meant for creating a “cocoon” of repellent air around the wearer, so it doesn't help if you are moving fast.
Moz Away Long Hour Protection 75ml
FROM Guardian Pharmacies
This spray uses picaridin that has been tested to repel insects effectively. It’s been tested on babies as young as 2 months old, says the literature on it, and should not stain clothes. It can give up to 9 hours’ protection.
Moz Away Junior Mosquito and Insect Repellent 50g
Designed for use on children and babies (as young as 2 months old), it’s touted as safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Has aloe vera, too, to moisturise baby’s skin.
Tiger Balm Mosquito Repellent Patches
PRICE $8.50 (10 patches)
FROM Watsons and Guardian Pharmacies
It’s DEET-free (saying only that it has “natural” protection) and the patches are individually sealed.
Tiger Balm Mosquito Repellent Spray 60ml
Again DEET-free and “natural”. Meant for outdoor use.
Watson’s Mosquito Repellent Bracelet
This is DEET-free and uses citronella oil. It’s designed to be effective for up to 72 hours and is suitable for adults and children, and for outdoor activities too.
So how can you help your child if they’ve been bitten and are itchy?
Treating mosquito bites
If you or your child are bitten, there are various ways to treat the raised, itchy red bumps (and yes, good old Mopiko is one — did you know there is Baby Mopiko?). You can also soothe your child’s itches with:
- Ice cubes
Numbs the area and controls swelling. Wrap cubes in a towel and press against bites for 10 minutes.
- Tea bags
Tea leaves act as an astringent, drawing toxins out of bitten skin and lessening discomfort. Press a used tea bag against bites until the itching subsides.
- Tea tree essential oil
Dab a little essential oil onto a cotton swab and rub it on the affected area. Lavender and peppermint oils also work well.
- Baking soda paste
Add a few drops of water to some baking soda, mix it into a paste, apply it directly onto bug bites, and allow to dry. The alkalinity of baking soda can help neutralise the pH of an infected area and reduce itching.
- Apple cider vinegar
Swab apple cider vinegar onto affected area.
- Aloe vera
Buy fresh aloe vera leaves and “break” them, letting the aloe vera ooze out and onto bites, or buy the gel and rub on bites.
If at any time, the bumps become alarmingly big or show signs of pus, or if your child develops a nasty fever, bring them to the doctor.
Check out our other product reviews here
You may also want to read...