Buzz Off Chemical Bug Repellant

June 17, 2013


A recent weekend outside of the city has left me victimized by the wrath of Ontario’s infamous mosquitoes. As I sit here trying to work, I am unable to think of anything other than a recurring fantasy which involves sandpaper and repeated contact with my ankles and the back of my neck.

DEET is revered as the gold standard in bug repellants, but many people, especially parents and pregnant women, have considerable hesitation in using it on their skin. Thankfully, in most instances, natural plant-based repellants are an effective alternative to DEET-based bug sprays. Eucalyptus oil, Citronella, peppermint and even lavender can provide effective repellant activity but care should still be exercised when applying essential oils directly to the skin. For reasons not readily explained by science, additional mosquito evading techniques have been reported to include avoiding fragrance, decreasing the consumption of potassium-rich foods such as bananas and minimizing white clothing.

For those of us who have forgotten all forms of protection before heading out into the wilderness, there is still hope. Aloe Vera gel and calendula cream are helpful in quelling the itch and pain of a fresh set of bites and a mixture of baking soda and water are highly effective at taking the pain out of a bee sting. Additionally, a bath filled with 2 cups of oatmeal will help mitigate the discomfort of relentless itches. Finally, for those camping without the convenience of a tub, a 3:1 mixture of water and apple cider vinegar, spritzed over the affected area (caution if the skin is broken as itching may be replaced by stinging) should help to reduce the discomfort.

Here, an all natural recipe for protection:

Natural Bug Repellant

To make your own insect repellant mix 1/2 tsp citronella oil, 1/4 tsp lavender oil, 1/8 tsp tea tree oil and 1/8 tsp jojoba oil in 16 tsp of jojoba or almond oil.

Mix together in a spray bottle and test on a small patch of skin before applying liberally. If a reaction occurs, dilute with additional jojoba oil. All essential oils should be available at most health food stores.

The Integrative Health Institute is located downtown Toronto at the corner of King and Sherbourne St. Check out more from Dr. Walker at her blog,

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