Being a tropical country, with rain and sun in a day, mosquitos are common in Singapore. There are the dengue spreading mosquitos that strike fear in us but most of the times, bites from mosquitos are quite harmless, except for the itch. As much as we try to avoid being a target for the mosquitos, it is hard to avoid being bitten; all you need is one stray mosquito to conveniently fly in to your home. Because most of us have shelves and dark corners in the house, it is perfect for the mosquito to hide and wait for the opportunity to feed.
If the bite is on an adult, it’s not that bad; we can resist the urge to scratch. However, when the kids get bitten, it can spell trouble for the parents. They usually cannot control their urge to scratch. Like for my kid, he scratches so much (usually when he is sleeping) that he damages the skin. It takes forever for the skin to heal because he keeps scratching it. It is to the extent of us having to bandage the bite area to prevent him from scratching.
After a few episodes of this, we decided that the best way forward is really not to get bitten. There are few types of insect repellent available in Singapore, for instance chemical repellents or natural repellents. Below is a summary of the two types. (Source from NEA website)
For chemical repellents, most of them contain the chemical DEET (Deet (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide). Some may contain the chemical Picaridin or Permethrin. Of the three, DEET and Picaridin are the most effective in repelling mosquitos.
However, it has been well documented that DEET , while effective against mosquito, can cause rashes and is not suitable for babies younger than 2 months. Canada Health actually advised against the use of DEET products on babies under 6 months of age! Picaridin, is also not suitable for babies below 2 months of age. Lastly, Permethrin is an insecticide and should not be applied onto the skin. Repellent with this chemical is designed for use on clothing only.
Whichever chemical repellent you use, if you develop a rash from using the repellent, wash off the repellent off with mild soap and water. Consult a doctor, taking the repellent with you to show the doctor.
Those who do not like chemical repellents or have young kids at home, you may prefer repellent made from natural products, such as lemon eucalyptus, citronella, lemongrass, peppermint or cedar. Of all, lemon eucalyptus is tested to be the most effective, but it should not be used on children less than 3 years old. This is advised by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.
The other effective option is citronella. As with all other natural repellents, the effect is short-lived compared to chemical repellents and would require more frequent reapplication, generally, every couple of hours.
In Singapore, a popular choice of natural insect repellent comes in the form of the mosquito patch. However, after trying them for a while, we soon discover that the patch has its limitations.
The citronella effect just does not cover the entire body. We will need at least two pieces to give my son full coverage (no wonder they come in pack of two). And when we thought we have it all covered, he still get bitten after a day out at the zoo.
So we started to explore other natural and chemical-free options and found an organic mosquito repellent that is made from natural products. It is the Buds Mozzie Clear Lotion. It is a lotion type, so no-spray (we read that spray type repellents contain nano particles that are harmful for children). Initially, I had my reservations about lotion repellents. I mean cream type lotions are usually quite thick and leave a greasy feel on the skin. Surprisingly not this one, it feels light, is non-greasy, and the smell from the citronella oil is not over-powering. It is quite mild, unlike some mosquito patches that give you a headache from the smell. Looking at the ingredients, it also contains Portulaca extract and Aloe Vera which help to soothe and hydrate the skin. Think of it as a moisturiser and mosquito repellent, all-in-one! The results have been good so far! It is easy to apply and is suitable for the whole family, including babies. We have been using it on our 7 month old when we head to the parks.
ps. We also use the Buds Mozzie Clear Lotion on our kids at home when that occasional stray mosquito wondered into our house.