Mosquitoes will always be a hazard living in the tropics, and mosquito repellents a fact of life, especially with the ever-present threat of dengue. But with the arrival of Zika on our shores, finding the most effective mosquito repellents has become even more of an urgent concern. Here are some of the road-tested, child-safe picks of Singapore mums.
Combi Herbal Insect Repellent
Active ingredient: Made from a combination of Citronella oil and Lavender Oil
Available at: All leading department and baby stores.
Keep the mozzies away with Combi’s Herbal Insect Repellent! Made of a combination of Citronella oil and Lavender Oil, it has a special scent to prevent contact with mosquitoes. Suitable for children and babies. Retailing at $13.90, available in all leading department and baby stores.
Tiger Balm Mosquito Repellent Patches
Active ingredient: citronella oil
Available at: Watson, Guardian and Unity pharmacies and many other retailers and supermarkets island-wide
This well-known product is also available as a pump spray and an aerosol spray, but the patches are the most popular. Clydia Mak, mum of three boys 1.5 to 6 years old says, “I use the patches as they are safer than sprays and lotions, for my eldest who has eczema and my youngest who is likely to ingest it (when applied to his skin). Other brands of patches we have tried aren’t as effective.”
SanteCare Mosquito Repellent
Active ingredient: wild tomato extract
Available at: NTUC Fairprice and Redmart.com
This comes in a spray form and patches. Mauritian expat Hanaa Narod, mum of a 6-year-old girl, prefers the spray. “This actually works better than the patches as it covers the whole skin. Whenever we use it while out, we don’t get any bites,” she declares.
Active ingredient(s): essential oils of citronella, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary, geranium and peppermint, and soybean and castor oils
Available at: iHerb.com, Metro department stores and Unity pharmacies
This comes in four forms: the balm, a spray, a push-up stick and a sunscreen. Tsang Weng Yang uses the balm on herself, but finds the spray more convenient for her 10-year-old son. She says, “It works well in most places, e.g. walks in parks, gardens, etc. It was however not as effective where the mozzies are aggressive, e.g. on Pulau Ubin, though still effective where other commercial repellents failed. The spray does need to be re-applied as needed, especially if the child perspires quite a bit.”
Repella Herbal Insect Repellent Moisturizing Cream
Active ingredient(s): lemongrass oil, eucalyptus oil, soybean oil, coconut oil (children’s formulation)
Available at: Watsons, OG and 21stcentury.sg
This comes in a children’s formulation and a regular formulation which contains the additional active ingredient of tea tree oil. Mother of two preschooler boys, Eve Sam, says that just one application a day of Repella kept her and her family free of mosquito bites for an entire weekend’s stay at the Rainforest Treehouse, a forest camp experience in Johor. “And my kids and I wore shorts!” Her friend Hidya agrees about its effectiveness, with the plus point that one bottle lasted her six months.
Purification essential oil blend by Young Living
Active ingredient(s): essential oils of citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, melaleuca (tea tree oil), lavandin and myrtle
Available at: youngliving.com
Farah Eliana claims this essential oil, applied on a bandage to the skin, can keep the mosquitoes absolutely away from her usually bite-prone 5-year-old daughter. Last week, after an outing at the Animal Resort with several friends, the group succumbed to tons of bites while Farah’s daughter stayed completely bite-free.
DIY essential oil blend
Active ingredient(s): multiple
Available at: individual ingredients at essential oil retailers
Rather than a single product, these are homemade mixtures of essential oils. Various recipes can be found online, usually consisting of several drops of two or more essential oils in a base of oil or liquid like witch hazel. Often, therapeutic grade oils are recommended for real efficacy, with citronella, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and tea tree among the more popular ones.
Amy Kuo uses lemongrass and citronella with witch hazel, as a spray. She says, “I apply once before we go outdoors. We hardly get bitten after we apply.” Sahliana Sahruddin likes to use a single oil, lemongrass, on her 4-year-old daughter who is prone to mosquito bites. “I dilute lemongrass in v6 (a carrier oil from Young Living) and spread all over her. It really helps, especially when she is going to places where she is sure to get bitten.”