An expat's quest for healthy living
A big concern to Singaporeans is mosquitoes and more importantly Dengue fever. One of the best things outdoorsy folks can do to protect themselves from bites is to use a repellent. I have found a few options for natural sprays and roll-on repellents. They all have a pretty similar base of citronella though some have melaleuca as well and one even uses catnip.
Natralia Nourish Naturals has a roll-on which is available at Guardian pharmacies. It’s a great small package and unlike the spray bottles, won’t end up spraying citronella all over the inside of a handbag. The formula is quite astringent and I’ve found it very irritating to my skin. My husband on the other hand has been fine so use with caution if you are super sensitive.
Watson’s has a home brand which is a little spray bottle with a yellow lid. It leaks like crazy so stick it in a ziploc when you travel. This seems to be a little more easy on the skin than the option above. It seems to be mostly citronella based and works fairly well to keep the bugs away.
Tiger Balm makes a spray and a patch which have citronella and camphor oil. I tried the spray out today at the beach when I sudden;y realized I was covered with ants. It worked well with keeping the ants off me. I have yet to take it into mosquito occupied territory and put it to a real test.
I have a bottle of a catnip based product I picked up in California last time I went back and it claims to be more effective than DEET. I used it for a week in Penang and found that it was shockingly NOT effective. In fact I felt like it attracted the mosquitoes as I am usually someone who rarely gets bitten and all of a sudden I had bites everywhere. Maybe this only works for American mosquitoes?
I noticed that Sephora here carries Burt’s Bees and they have a stainless steel spray bottle with their own brand of insect repellent. It’s the most expensive option I’ve seen but it might be a nicer product. I’ll be getting one to try out soon. Let me know if you have this and like it.
Natural repellents are from my experience about 50% effective, I’d consider them a deterrent and suggest being diligent about mosquito avoidance. When I’ve been bitten it’s usually right after a rain shower, near dusk and in an area away from urban dwellings like a park. While living right beside a park sounds great, it might not be the best way to avoid mosquito bite exposure.