Spring and summer are the peak seasons for mosquitoes and their annoying bites. But why do we attract them? The answer lies in three chemical compounds that we generate as humans: lactic acid, the amount of carbon dioxide we exhale and octenol. Our body temperature and odour, which depends on each person's skin microbiota, also work as a lure for these insects.
All these factors are uncontrollable, so, to repel mosquitoes and avoid having to deal with their annoying bites, you can only try to affect the insect's receptors. This is where mosquito repellents come in, popularly known as anti-mosquito repellents, which manage to confuse the insects, preventing them from locating the person they are trying to bite. We can find repellents with a chemical base, such as DEET, icaridin or IR3535®. They are used to avoid insect bites from the common mosquito, tiger mosquito and/or fleas due to their high effectiveness and low toxicity for the skin.
In specific situations (sensitive skin, children, during pregnancy, etc.) some repellents are more suitable than others and it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional. It should be noted that mosquitoes and other insects are vectors of diseases. This is particularly important when travelling to tropical areas with endemic mosquito-borne diseases. In these cases, biocidal repellents should be prioritised because of their greater efficacy.
On the other hand, there are organic or plant-based mosquito repellents, such as citriodiol or citronella oil (the latter is not biocidal and is less effective). Botanical repellents are extracted from plants that produce defensive substances against insect attacks. These active substances are generally present in higher concentrations in some of the botanical species' essential oils (Eucalyptus and Cymbopogon).
Finally, you can take some precautions to minimise insect bites: wearing cotton clothing in discreet colours that cover as much skin as possible and avoiding using perfumes or cosmetics with intense scents. In high-risk areas, use mosquito nets. And, in the event of an intense reaction after a bite or if you feel unwell, you should seek medical attention.