Did you use to have the mosquito puzzle at school? The teacher would ask “What animal is responsible for the most deaths each year?” Everyone would say sharks (responsible for about 6 deaths a year). Tigers are a better guess at 85 a year (although that seems to be rising a little in India). You’d be most unfortunate to be one of the two people attacked by rhinos. Luckily these are rarely fatal, but you might need some helichrysum for the bruising, I’d have thought! However, according to the World Health Organization, mosquito bites result in more than 1 million people’s deaths every year. Today, we’ll look at the best essential oils for mosquito bites and repellents.
8 Best Essential Oils For Mosquito Bites
It was difficult to know what to put at the top of the leaderboard for the best essential oils for mosquito bites. What’s the priority when we ask what essential oil is good for mosquito bites? Do we want to calm the itching, introduce an anti-malaria element, or repel the little bleeders? Lavender is definitely the best essential oil for mosquito bite itch torture. Not only that, but it is cooling, calming, and sedative. Roman Chamomile is not really mosquito specific, so it didn’t make its way onto the list of the best essential oils for mosquito bites, but combine it with a little lavender and geranium essential oils for mosquito bites on baby. There are more tips to stop the scratching in our best essential oils for bug bites page if you need them.
Eucalyptus is brilliant for any kind of bites, including horse flies. It does have a soothing element, but we would suggest combining it with lavender to increase that.
Lemon Eucalyptus is especially useful as a deterrent. A study published by the Journal of American Mosquito Control compared the effects of lemon eucalyptus with the chemical repellent Deet. Deet provided 100% protection, whereas lemon eucalyptus provided 95% protection for 3 hours.
One of the key problems you have with essential oils is they have no fixative properties. Plants manufacture them with the objective of them evaporating. As such, they are protective but even the best essential oils for mosquito bites are only efficient for between two to three hours.
We should take care of using eucalyptus on children, however. It is high in a constituent 1,8 cineole which slows respiration and is not advised for use on children under 6.
It’s the female mosquito that causes the damage. She needs extra protein to lay her eggs, so she finds human blood to supplement that. Ordinarily, mosquitoes would be considered useful pollinators and they feast on nectar. She likes to breed in still water that becomes stagnant. In India, vetiver has been used as a means of cleaning stagnant water for 5000 years.
There is an ancient set of medical texts, which relate that you will rarely find mosquitoes where vetiver is growing. They just don’t like its fragrance. This idea was tested in a study that was published in the Journal of Entomology in 2018.
It was accepted that vetiver is a wonderful deterrent against one of the main vectors of malaria, Anopheles minimus, but the researchers wanted to take it further, wanting to know exactly which constituents might be responsible.
They tested valencene, terpinen-4-ol, isolongifolene, vetiverol.
Vetiverol and isolongifolene showed contact irritancy to the insects at 1% while moderate action was found in both valencene and terpinen-4-ol at 5.0%. High mortality (58.9-98.2%) was recorded in all concentrations of vetiverol and isolongifolene. However, valencene only exhibited high mortality at 5.0%, Terpinen-4-ol showed very low toxic action (0-4.3%) in all concentrations.
Normally we would say only use essential oils at dilutions of less than 3% however vetiver is a safe non-irritant oil that you could safely use up to 10% dilution for these kinds of emergencies. Like lavender, vetiver is calming and soothing, as is wonderfully cooling when the temperature goes up.
Patents for mosquito repellents containing essential oils have almost doubled every four years since 1998. A 2011 review of the patent literature found that essential oils were contained in a third of all the patent ingredients. Citronella and eucalyptus were the active components in half of them. Citronella has a naturally skin-irritant quality so it is probably not one of the best essential oils for mosquito bites. However, it is most certainly one of the most successful repellants along with eucalyptus. They also mention some others from our list of the best essential oils for mosquito bites and repellents too.
Interestingly, one constituent was mentioned repeatedly as being good. Geraniol, which appears in many essential oils, especially geranium.
It’s not that surprising that mosquito bite is such a strong area for essential oils. Plants create secondary metabolites to attract pollinators and to deter other more problematic creatures or other botanicals. This is actually what essential oils are for! Predictably too, we find the most useful oils come from plants that grow in these countries where mosquitoes are found.
Lemongrass is one of these oils.
Culex quinquefasciatus is a medium-sized mosquito that makes its habitat close to houses. Sometimes referred to as the southern house mosquito, it feasts happily on mammalian and human blood and is a strong vector for malaria.
Thai researchers found a combination of lemongrass essential oil and olive oil showed excellent activity with 98.8% protection from bites of C.quinquefasciatus for just under three hours
Another study, published in 2005, tested Lemongrass and East Indian Basil essential oils (this was the lesser-known Ocimum gratissimum ) on Plasmodium berghei, a parasite that causes malaria in certain rodents. The tests were performed on mice, and both oils showed significant antimalarial activities At concentrations of 200, 300, and 500 mg/kg of mouse per day, the lemongrass essential oil produced the highest activity with the respective percentages of parasitic suppression of 62.1 %, 81.7 %, and 86.6 %. O. gratissimum was also impressive, but not quite as good. At the same concentrations, it scored 55.0 %, 75.2 % and 77.8 %, respectively.
Incidentally, as an aside, if your pet does start scratching, there are more tips on our page of the best essential oils for fleas.
Peppermint is one of the best essential oils for mosquito bites. It repels adult mosquitoes and kills the larvae when you spread it as a film on water.
Basil and Patchouli were found to have the same abilities but to a lesser degree.
Apply it diluted to bite (not open skin) for immediate relief from itching.
Ylang ylang is a beautiful fragrant tree that grows in Madagascar. Its name means flower of flowers and it has been used in their traditional medicine for malaria since the turn of the century. It is antivector and insect repellent.
In the same 2015 study that we cited in the lemongrass section of the best essential oils for mosquito bites, researchers also tested ylang ylang against Aedes egypti, the main vector of yellow fever and dengue.
They found that ylang ylang diluted in coconut oil gave 98.9% protection from its bites for around an hour and a half
Ylang ylang is cooling, relaxing and soothing.
Angelica extracts are traditionally used in Indian medicine against the symptoms of malaria but as yet, there is little scientific data to support its use. Angelica is cooling, soothing and antimicrobial.
Best Essential oils for Mosquito Bites: DIY Recipes
- 10ml aqueous Cream
- 3 drops Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
- 3 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil (Cananga odorata)
- 1 drop Vetiver essential oil (Vetiveria zizanioides)
Method of Use: Apply to the affected area. However, if the skin is broken, apply close, but not directly over it
Safety: Not suitable for use during pregnancy.
- 50ml Water
- 1 teaspoon Alcohol (Vodka works well)
- 10 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil (Cananga odorata)
- 3 drops Citronella essential oil (Cymbopogon nardus)
- 3 drops Lemon Eucalyptus (Corymbia citriodora)
Method of Preparation: Importantly, beware of using old oils in this recipe. The monoterpenes oxidize quickly and could cause skin sensitization. Disperse the essential oils into the alcohol then add to the water in a spritzer bottle.
Method of Use: Re spritz around you, every hour or so.
The best essential oils for mosquito bites are from plants! Actually, there’s not so much more to know than that. The plants don't want them, so they scare them off with their lovely smells and we can do the same. Usually, but not always lemon-scented oils repel the insects, and we repair any damage by using soothing oils such as lavender and chamomile and use ylang ylang, vetiver, and angelica for their traditional antimalarial skills.