What repellent is best for Costa Rica?

Old Nov 2nd, 2011, 04:14 PM
  #1  
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What repellent is best for Costa Rica?

Do you have a favorite that worked? I remember buying "something" for Mexico, I think it said "deet" in ingredients, came home with red dots.

We'll take a small group tour with stops in San Jose, Sarapiqui, Arenal, Punta Leona, other places in between in February.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2011, 04:36 PM
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For protection against dengue fever, this is what the CDC recommends:

Travelers should follow the steps below to protect themselves from mosquito bites:

•Where possible, stay in hotels or resorts that are well screened or air conditioned and that take measures such as spraying with insecticide to reduce the mosquito population.
•When outdoors or in a building that is not well screened, use insect repellent on uncovered skin. If sunscreen is needed, apply before applying insect repellent.
◦Look for a repellent that contains one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin (KBR 3023), Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus/PMD, or IR3535. Always follow the instructions on the label when you use the repellent.
◦In general, repellents protect longer against mosquito bites when they have a higher concentration (percentage) of any of these active ingredients. However, concentrations above 50% do not offer a marked increase in protection time. Products with less than 10% of an active ingredient may offer only limited protection, often no longer than 1-2 hours.

You might try a lower concentration of DEET before you go, ie 25 or 30% and see if you have any reaction.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2011, 04:48 PM
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By "reaction" you mean allergy or rash? Oh, that's a good idea, to try first.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2011, 04:57 PM
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Tips:

1) Cover up if you're in a buggy area. Sweat goes away a lot faster than red itchy welts.

2) sand flies/no-see-ums are usually much worse than mosquitos

3) Deet usually works for people. We use insect-repellent clothing, and have had good success.

4) Don't forget to cover up at night. Just because you're not thinking about them doesn't mean they're not thinking about you.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2011, 05:21 PM
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Yes, I meant that maybe your red dots were not mosquito bites!

Red dots could also be prickly heat.

I usually use DEET.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2011, 06:18 PM
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We found picaridin to be completely useless against mosquitos in Costa Rica and Panama.

However, we did find Cutter 100% Deet to be highly effective. There's an OFF Deep Woods version with 95% Deet.

We did meet some other travelers who used Skin So Soft (which she said now comes in body spray, body wash, lotion and the original oil) and they swore by it.

I just don't like the smell or the oil.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2011, 08:38 PM
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Thank you, all! I will collect information to go pharmacy shopping.

And yes, those were mosquito bites, I had "lacy" socks so they found where to bite - I wore a copy of the design for a while No dots/bites anywhere else on the body.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 02:36 AM
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DEET is usually suggested by CDC unless allergic

or a child(neurotoxicity in small children)

cutteradvanced is a nice safe alternative

mstravelhealth.com CR best health info...
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 02:38 AM
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cutteradvanced.com

mdtravelhealth.com

Have fun!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 05:02 AM
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If you have a Cabela's near you, try Ben's brand. They make small (carry-on sized) bottles that are strong enough where a few squirts will be enough. It's high % deet but really works, as mosquitoes love me.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 06:30 AM
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The question and its answers might lead people to believe that travelers to Costa Rica will be subjected to millions of mosquitoes unless covered in chemicals. A better question would be: How bad are the mosquitoes in Costa Rica? In the areas most frequented by visitors, usually not bad. A few areas where Dengue has been found require a lot of precautions.

If you are taking a guided/hosted tour, you may be instructed to use a lot of repellent, but in our experience, it isn't usually necessary. No-seeums at sunset are much more of a problem. People react differently to different bites and also to different repellents. I wouldn't spend any effort tying to track down magical potions from odd sources. Every mosquito repellent will work perfectly for everyone, IF in fact, there are no mosquitoes around--which is often the case.

We use (bed) mosquito netting where ever it is offered, but more against wandering moths and other night fliers.

A few years ago there were a lot of horror stories being circulated about very negative reactions to DEET. It remains one of the most effective repellents.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 07:22 AM
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I like the packets of Deep Woods Off towelettes, don't have to worry about liquids. Mosquitoes have usually not been an issue, but I got chewed up by the no-seeums at Tirimbina (Sarapiqui) when I didn't use it.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 07:37 AM
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We always wear repellent with DEET, but that being said, we've never encountered huge amounts of mosquitoes anywhere but Tortuguero. Have also never encountered the no-seeums that other people have run into.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 09:53 AM
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Dengue fever is the major risk in Costa Rica. Of course it is related to breeding of mosquitos. But it is not restricted to jungle areas and the mossies bite during the daytime.

I thought you might like to know what the travel advice sheet from Kaiser says about insect protection (I just received it for an upcoming trip to South America).

"DEET insect repellent is the only effective insect repellent for use on skin. We recommend 15% to 40% DEET. Apply sparingly to exposed skin. Wash off once you are inside a well screened area. Slow-release formulas listed below last longer and are safest for children/pregnant women. (Sawyer Controlled Release 20%/Ultrathon by 3M)."

They also recommend Permethrin spray for clothing.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 11:08 AM
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Kinkazote, thank you, but we prefer to be on the safe side. The trip is 10 days, we don't go to Cenral or South America every year, once had a bad reaction to the bites, better to put some chemicals on than itch later.

Thank you all for your advices! I'll check what's available, and report back at the end of February by posting a report of our trip. Hopefully with photos!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 09:23 PM
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If you are particularly concerned, I read an article about purchasing clothing treated with Permetrin as well as how to wash clothing in it to fully repel insects from biting through clothing.

Kinkazote made good observations and we also found some areas more buggy than others, but if you are (like me) someone who is bitten often and seems to attract them, use the repellent.

Also - an elderly man in a pharmacy reminded my son that scratching his bites doesn't just cause them to scab. It causes them to become infected and more likely to scar. He related the infection to scratching with your fingernails. He then treated each bite on his legs with something that smelled like Vicks Vapo-Rub and handed DS a tissue to rub at the bites with instead of scratching them. DS said that the Vicks burned a little bit, but the itching subsided.

We took several kinds of bite sticks - CVS has their own brand of ones with choices of lidocaine, benzocaine or menthol.
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Old Nov 4th, 2011, 11:20 AM
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Maybe I need something anti-itching... I am concerned after Mexico bites, before that mosquitoes just didn't land on me!

Just following the rule: hope for the best, prepare for the worst
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