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Thursday, September 01, 2016

Types of Mosquito repellents in Singapore and its myths (Zika)

The first community and local transmission of Zika Virus has been detected in Singapore on the 27 August. As a father to be, this is extremely worrisome news - considering the devastating effects it has on an unborn child. Given that Zika is spread by the Aedes mosquito vector, a problem that has existed in Singapore for a long time, there is a high chance that further transmissions will occur throughout the country.

In this post, we will look at some of the myths regarding mosquito repellents and how you can choose one that will give you and your loved ones the best protection! Stay safe !

Types of Repellents in the Singapore Market

Picaridin / Icaridin 

Moz Away ( 8-9Hrs)

LONG HOUR PROTECTION SPRAY provides all night long protection (Up to 9 hours protection).

Active Ingredients: Picaridin 19.2% Inert Ingredients: Isopropyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Water 80.8%


OFF! ( 6Hrs)

Insect Repellent Lotion

Active Ingredients: N.N-Diethyltoluamide 15.00% w/w 85.00% w/w

Ethyl Butylacetylaminopropionate 

Hansaplast ( 4Hrs)

Insect Repellent Spray 100ML

Active Ingredients:  Ethyl Butylacetylaminopropionate 15.00% w/w 85.00% w/w

Natural (Citronella, Lemon Grass)

Tiger Balm (Spray/Patch)

Mosquito Repellent Spray

Active Ingredients:  Citronella Oil 9%, Camphor 3%, Menthol 1%

Link & Photo Credits: Guardian Pharmacy

How to choose your repellent (Some myths)

Myth: "Natural" is healthier

It is not surprising that most people associate “natural” products with better health benefits or less toxicity. There is a general perception that natural products are healthier choices. However, when it comes to mosquito repellents, there is clear evidence that these perceived “healthier” choices might not be the most effective - especially for the purpose of protecting yourself against Zika mosquitos (Aedes aegypti).

Studies have repeatedly shown that the most effective repellents are DEET and Picaridin. DEET, in particular, has been shown to be very effective. Picaridin, although relatively new, is similarly effective. Most repellents containing at least 20% of DEET or Picaridin have shown to be highly effective as a repellent for up to 7-9 hours. 

Unfortunately, many studies throughout the world have shown that plant based repellents provide substantially less protection against biting mosquitoes than DEET or Picaridin. Products containing Citronella, Lavender, Peppermint and Lemon grass oils are widespread and are often promoted as “DEET-Free” alternatives. These natural repellents do provide limited protection but it requires constant re-application and are not recommended at high risk areas (e.g Aljunied Cresent or Sims Drive).

Myth: Stronger repellent = less mosquitoes

This is probably the most common mistake made when choosing a repellent. The strength of a repellent (i.e. the concentration of active ingredients) does not determine how many mosquitoes are kept at bay. It actually determines the duration of protection with which the repellent provides. In other words, a stronger concentration of DEET/Picaridin will likely mean that you are protected from biting mosquitoes over a longer period.

Myth: Chemical repellents are bad for the skin

Both DEET and Picaridin are considered safe - even recommended by our Gynecologist. If used as directed, DEET-based repellents pose no substantial health risk. Despite being used by millions of people every year, there are few examples of reported serious adverse health impacts in the scientific literature. Picaridin, a recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) for protection against mosquitoes that carry diseases (Zika and Dengue here in Singapore), is not known to irritate skin and eyes, does not have a pungent odor, and does not dissolve plastics. According to Bayer AG, its developer, it does not carry the same neurotoxicity concerns as DEET but has not been tested as much over the long term.

Myth: Mosquito Traps and Ultrasonic Apps (iOS/Android)

There is little or no scientific evidence that any of these gimmicks will protect you from mosquito bites. In fact, there were several tests conducted to disprove the ultrasonic repellent claims.

Here's a video (NBC Reporter Testing the Ultrasonic Mosquito Repellent App)

How to Use a Repellent*

- Do not apply repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
- Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and clothing.
- Avoid putting on too much spray/lotion.
- After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
- Wash treated clothing before wearing it again.
- Do not spray in enclosed areas.
- To apply to face, spray on hands first and then rub on face. Avoid spraying directly onto face.
- Spray onto hands, spread evenly, then proceed to apply on your child.

* Women who are pregnant or breast feeding can safely use DEET, Picaridin, lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535, according to the EPA, if they are applied properly. 

Known Zika Cases in Singapore (Updated: 28-Nov-16)

Remaining Clusters:

Bedok Nth St 3 (Blk 542, 544, 545)
Haig Rd (Blk 11)

~ All other clusters have been closed or under surveillance.

Credit: Ministry of Health

Other Zika related information