Posted on Jul 21, 2019, 6 p.m.
There is always one person in a group that always get bitten, no matter what, and to be honest that person is me. I say this is because I’m naturally sweet and obviously better than everyone else around me in a joking manner. Due to this I am willing to try just about anything, and have explored every route possible to avoid these pests that seem to target me and enjoy turning me into a giant itchy welt.
I also have been blessed with extra sensitive skin, because of my “skin like a delicate flower condition” I have to look for more gentle approaches or endure side effects which can be worse than what I am trying to remedy. There are plenty of folk remedies for repelling mosquitoes such as B vitamins and coffee, but for me these 2 fell short. Folk remedies don’t have much to back them scientifically, but most have plenty of anecdotal evidence, and it appears as if you actually can do a little to be less of an itchy mess.
Citronella plants work for me, and they are pretty as a bonus. They make great patio plants in containers and produce a lovely aroma. These plants are sensitive to cold, so bring them inside when the temperatures drop. Rubbing the crushed leaves on your skin or clothing may help to repel mosquitoes, just as candles, coils, or torches with citronella in them will help to repel pests from an area for up to 2 hours as effectively as DEET. It is advised to do a very small area check first to test for a skin reaction or fabric distortion.
Fresh cut lemon and lime slices with a few cloves shoved into them also appears to help, and burning thyme leaves also appears to work fantastically from my experience. Short of sitting in mosquito netting around the deck, I often rub several citronella leaves together and place them near me, and when hiking in the woods or camping I pin a dryer sheet in the middle of may back (another folk remedy) and make a few strings of citronella leaves to tie around my hat, waist, arms, and ankles.
Garlic has been shown to repel mosquitoes, which may be due to the active ingredients, allicin. For best results try consuming crushed garlic as close to raw as you can handle; supplements have also been found to be bioavailable. Whipping up some fresh tomato, basil, with raw garlic bruschetta bread may be a way to enjoy a nice summer snack while helping yourself to fight off the pesky insects.
Most summer fruit such as grapefruit contains nootkatone which has been shown to repel mosquitoes and ticks which makes it a point of interest in fighting Lyme disease. Not only are these a yummy snack, breakfast addition, or dessert for the added bug busting benefits try rubbing their essential oil rich peels onto your skin after eating them.
Lemongrass is a natural source of citronella, but there are mixed reviews as to if consuming this carries the same benefits. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it does, plus it is pretty tasty so there’s not really a downside to it. For best results try steeping a tea or use it in a curry, as it tends to taste woody some prefer to infuse it and strain/remove before eating.
Lemon eucalyptus oil is a well known natural repellent that is actually approved by the CDC; a mixture of 32% lemon eucalyptus oil was shown to be 95% effective against mosquitoes for 3 hours in one study.
Crushed lavender can also produce a fragrant oil that can help to repel mosquitoes, and at least one study has found lavender oil to be effective at repelling adult mosquitoes; in addition to being a repellant it can also help to calm and soothe skin due to its analgesic, antifungal, and antiseptic qualities.
Cinnamon oil can kill off mosquito eggs and can help to repel adult mosquitoes according to another study; use caution when applying to skin as concentrated doses can be irritating, it may be better to spray it around an area or to clothing.
Thyme oil may be one of the best natural mosquito repellents, 5% thyme oil applied to the skin was shown to provide a 91% protection rate in at least one study. Burning thyme leaves has been shown to offer 85% protection for up to 60-90 minutes.
Tea tree oil is suggested to be an effective insect repellent, which can also help to treat bites. Geraniol is said to be effective for 2-4 hours depending on insect species. Neem oil was also found to offer 70% protection for 3 hours.
Mosquitoes have been shown to be more attracted to those who have drank alcohol than those who have not. Mosquitoes are also more likely to be attracted to bite you if you have a strong amount of lactic acid which shows up in sweat, so regardless of what you eat try to keep cool so these pests don’t zero in on you as a target to bite.
Apple cider vinegar may help to treat mosquito bites as an alternative to calamine lotion; and a slice of raw onion and/or raw garlic on the bite can help to guard against infection while providing relief.
A word of caution: essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin, they must be diluted in a carrier oil such as almond oil, typically at a ratio to 3-5 drops of essential oil put into one ounce of the carrier oil.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.