Minor Ailments » Insect bites and urticaria (hives) » Insect Repellent Facts: Debunking Myths and Best Practices for Protection and Relief!

Insect Repellent Facts: Debunking Myths and Best Practices for Protection and Relief!

Insect repellents are an effective way to prevent insect bites.

Two commonly used repellents are DEET and icaridin, which are effective against mosquitos and ticks.

However, it’s important to note that the recommended age for use and the duration of their effectiveness can vary depending on the concentration, so it’s always a good idea to check the labels before use.

One repellent that people may prefer is icaridin. Unlike DEET, icaridin is odorless, non-greasy, and does not damage plastics or other surfaces. This makes it a popular choice for those who value convenience and prefer a more pleasant application experience. T

There is a product called Coconut Lime Summer Spray that has gained popularity on social media as a repellent and a “personal veil.” However, it’s worth noting that the active ingredients in this spray, such as aroma oils, avocado oils, aloe vera juice, silicone, and preservatives, do not have strong scientific evidence to support their effectiveness as insect repellents.

For those who are looking for a natural alternative, oil of lemon eucalyptus (P-menthane 3,8-diol) or soybean oil can be considered.

It’s important to debunk a common myth – garlic is not an effective insect repellent, despite its reputation for repelling vampires. As being of Romanian descent, I should know!

Supplements containing vitamin B (or B6) or garlic are also not effective as repellents, so it’s best not to rely on them for protection. I could swear Thiamine (B6) also found in beer helped my friends by the camp fire but data is lacking!:-)


When applying insect repellent, it’s important to apply it only to exposed skin or clothing. Avoid spraying it directly on the face; instead, spray it on your hands first and then apply it to the face.

Once you are indoors, remember to wash off the repellent.


Managing More Severe Reactions: Ensuring Safety and Relief

When it comes to managing reactions to insect bites, it’s crucial to understand that children often experience more pronounced reactions compared to adults, with their reactivity gradually decreasing as they grow older. It’s important for parents and caregivers to be aware of the potential severity of these reactions and take appropriate measures to ensure the well-being of their children.

One particular severe reaction that some individuals may experience is known as Skeeter Syndrome. This condition is characterized by intense swelling and mild systemic symptoms that can mimic the appearance of cellulitis. While rare, Skeeter Syndrome can cause significant discomfort and distress.

In cases where someone exhibits systemic anaphylactic symptoms following an insect bite, such as difficulty breathing or a rapid onset of hives, immediate medical care should be sought without delay. Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that requires emergency intervention. Prompt action can be lifesaving in such situations.

In addition to anaphylactic symptoms, individuals who show signs of infection, such as increased redness, warmth, or discharge from the bite site, should be promptly referred for medical attention. Infections can develop as a result of scratching the bite excessively, which can introduce bacteria into the skin.

For managing local reactions to insect bites, there are several measures that can provide relief. Cold compresses can help alleviate swelling and soothe the affected area. Analgesics, such as over-the-counter pain relievers, can be used to alleviate any associated discomfort. Oral antihistamines may also be beneficial in reducing itching and inflammation.

However, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional or MisterPharmacist for appropriate dosing and guidance, especially when administering these medications to children.

Topical corticosteroids, available through a prescription from pharmacists following the Ontario Minor Ailment Guidelines, can be highly effective in managing the symptoms of severe local reactions. These corticosteroids work by reducing inflammation and relieving itching. It’s important to use these medications as directed and for the recommended duration to avoid potential side effects.

While topical corticosteroids are a reliable option, some individuals may prefer alternative remedies. Topical applications of ammonia or baking soda, known for their soothing properties, can provide temporary relief from itching. Calamine lotion is another popular choice due to its ability to soothe the skin and reduce discomfort.

However, it’s crucial to exercise caution when considering topical antihistamines for insect bite reactions. While these medications are commonly used for allergic reactions, they should be avoided in topical forms due to the risk of contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis can lead to further skin irritation and exacerbate the symptoms rather than providing relief.

By understanding the appropriate management strategies for more severe reactions to insect bites, individuals can ensure the safety and well-being of themselves and their loved ones. Seeking immediate medical attention for systemic anaphylactic symptoms and referring individuals showing signs of infection are crucial steps. Utilizing cold compresses, analgesics, oral antihistamines (under professional guidance), topical corticosteroids, or alternative remedies like ammonia, baking soda, or calamine can provide relief and aid in the healing process. Prioritizing appropriate care and being mindful of potential risks and benefits can help alleviate discomfort and promote a speedy recovery.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Severe allergic reactions. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/toolstemplates/entertainmented/tips/SevereAllergicReactions.html
2. MedicinesComplete. (2021). Topical corticosteroids. Retrieved from https://www.medicinescomplete.com/#/content/BNFC/99999/258737/Principles_of_prescribing/1104/

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