Summertime means more time outdoors, but we're not alone out there. Mosquitoes and other six-legged pests can be a constant nuisance outside and many people turn to insect repellents for relief. How safe and effective are different varieties of repellents?
Unfortunately, according to Kris Somol, ND, clinical faculty member at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, Bastyr University's teaching clinic, no bug repellent is 100 percent human-safe. Dr. Somol recommends you choose repellent based on the level of protection you need for the specific situation. If insect-borne disease is a significant concern (when traveling abroad, for example), high protection is recommended and these repellents are most effective:
Common herbal insect repellents include citronella, peppermint oil, cedar oil, lemongrass oil and geranium oil. Herbal repellents are weaker and do no last as long as their synthetic counterparts. Frequent reapplication of essential oil-based repellents may cause skin irritation and is not recommended, but herbal repellents may be useful for infrequent, short use, such as grilling on the porch for 20 minutes.
Precautions when using any sort of insect repellent
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