Health and safety forum
27th December, 2008
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An oft cited issue in Travelfish's forum page - TravelHealth - is the appropriate use of insect repellent.
Some from temperate climates fear that the insects in the tropics are more aggressive than in other global zones.
I don't know whether that is true, but I know some insect repellents don't have a long 'resistence' effect in the tropics. This is not because of the product, but because we humans sweat more in the tropics and the repellant loses its effect due to profuse sweating.
For travellers, there is the ever present problem of chemical VERSUS natural products.
There are two problems associated with chemical repellents: personal health issues, and chemical resistance.
It is a simple fact that every chemical insecticide is toxic in some dose or another. Insect repellents are toxic to insects, and in enough of a dose can impact on the human. For example, DEET is now the subject of much caution.
It is also a fact that insects can form a resistance to chemicals. The more we use a chemical at low doses, the more likely it is that society will find that chemical is withdrawn from market because it no longer has potency.
In respect to insect repellents, indigenous people around the world have long been using plants to repel insects.
Today, there are several good plant based insect repellents.
Sadly, faced with natural competition, all the chemical industry can do is say that the natural product hasn't met the same rigorous standards as imposed on the chemical industry. This is sour grapes because the very reason we impose rigorous standards on the chemical industry is because their products are toxic and dangerous to human health.
If you have a preference to look after your body, consider natural methods to address your insect repellent needs.
Probably like you, I am somewhat concerned about picking up a disease from a mosquito bite. The concern is far more towards Dengue Fever than Malaria. Malaria is largely not endemic in the areas where most travellers go in SE Asia.
For protection against insect bites, I advocate a two pronged approach.
Being male, when in SE Asia I wear long trousers and short sleeved 'business style' shirts. This provides some protection to all but arms and neck/face.
I also use a natural insect repellent.
Info on all alternative insect repellents can be found here.
Elsewhere on Travelfish, a resident of SE Asia advocates Neem (2%) & Coconut oil. These ingredients can be readily bought there.
I live in Australia, and we here have a product called Lemon Eucalyptus Oil. This oil is effective as an insect repellent. Worldwide, the product has a growing following.
In case you haven't heard of it, here are a few pointers:
Reference to a US sold lemon eucalyptus product is here
To make lemon eucalyptus yourself, go here, but if you do choose to make it yourself, you will need some oil which can be found here.
Hope this helps keep you safe.
#1 Posted: 21/7/2009 - 07:02
"Elsewhere on Travelfish, a resident of SE Asia advocates Neem (2%) & Coconut oil. These ingredients can be readily bought there."
Err if you're referring to me,I'm not actually a resident of SE Asia Bruce. I spend half the year in Europe!
Neem trees are grown in SE Asia (Sadao is the Thai name) but I'm not sure if neem oil is that widely available. Have you seen it on sale there?
It can be bought online though.
#2 Posted: 21/7/2009 - 07:33
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