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Staying Healthy on the Road Medical info, e.g. malaria, vaccinations, travel medical tips, medical insurance, where to find a doctor.
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Old 23 Mar 2001
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Insect repellent

For my Alaska trip in June I am researching DEET. I have seen products from 10% to 100% DEET. Some say time release. I saw a quote from a US army report that 30% to 40% worked better than 75% DEET. Also warnings about damage to synthetic fabrics and plastic from contact with DEET.
Any information would be appreciated.
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Old 24 Mar 2001
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Deet will indeed "eat" some clothing articles and plastics. The single best bug repellent is a mix of Johnson&Johnson baby oil (the cheap see-through $1.99 stuff in the corner store) and Dettol, a disinfectant. Mix 3 parts baby oil for 1 part Dettol. Shake well and the stuff turns white. Works like a charm and you won't see a bug around. I've used it in Canada and Asia with 100% success. You don't need much. Other benefit is that is works as a disinfectant (good when you are in 3rd world countries). Also keeps you skin a bit moist, so don't use too much. Only downside is that if it is very hot (30C and up), the baby oil seems to prevent you from sweating a bit on the covered areas of your skin.

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Old 25 Mar 2001
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The baby oil method certainly sounds interesting.

You will need to be careful with certain insect repellents, Some definetaly will damage fabriques and materials. The ones that we issued in the army would melt the plastic stock on your weapon!.

I have found autan very good when travelling, not sure what the consistency is on it though.

Have heard of some people using lavender oil to keep insects off. Make you smell nice too!

Keeping covered in the evenings also reduces that chance of being bitten.


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Old 27 Mar 2001
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I've had good results with something as widely available as Off! while at work photographing the rainforest, combined at night with one or two mosquito coils, although I'm not sure if these are available there. I am not fond of citronella-oil based products.

Whatever you choose, make sure you are very careful with your cameras or any other plastic gear, it DOES melt and make a fine mess. Check for a sweaty, sprayed brow before you put your camera to your face.

Also, make sure you spray your wrists and especially your ankles when you go to bed. I found these to be the most often-attacked spots, at least for us.
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Old 28 Mar 2001
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Hi I agree with Kevin's formula you can also use olive oil. I used to use this in NZ where there are terrible Sandflies and it works a treat DEET is also poisonous and i'm not sure i like to use it after a friend had his sunglasses melted by it!
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Old 2 Apr 2001
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In defence of Deet: people have been using it for ages and nothing all that serious has happened. The British consumer mag 'Which?' did a test of repellents (some poor researcher stuck his arm in a tank full of mozzies with various products in patches on it) and found the 95 per cent deet works best by far. But, then, they were unaware of the dettol/baby oil option...

Simon Kennedy
London-India on a 1993 Transalp
Simon Kennedy
Around the world 2000-2004, on a 1993 Honda Transalp
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Old 18 May 2001
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Be cautious with DEET, especially with 100% DEET. DEET is a Neurotoxin. I developed a nasty case of Bells Palsy from accidentally getting a tiny amount on my lip. I used it the proper way, by putting only a small amount on my hands and around my neck etc. Unfortunatly, before I could wash my hands I wiped the back of my hand on my lips (spilled a few drops of ). Within two days I could not move the left side of my face, and could barely close my eye lids.

There have been many studies of severe side effects, even death, from use of this product. If you are going to use it, use a diluted version of it. 10% I think is what is recommended. Don't use a lot, try to use it on your cloths instead of your skin.

CT Bob
Bob L.
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Old 11 Jul 2001
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I am back from Alaska. for bug stuff I used
Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus with sunblock spf 30. It worked great.
At the Fairbanks Alaska BMW shop the mosquitoes were very thick and the only place they got me was on my hands after I took my gloves off. I didn't put the cream on them.(AVON skin care company in the USA not the tire company)Also no DEET

[This message has been edited by John Ferris (edited 11 July 2001).]
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Old 18 Jul 2005
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I can't wait to try the baby oil and dettol. I have been eaten alive since we ran out of 100% deet and have been searching for it everywhere (despite seeing it in action melting plasic, the bites are just getting to be too much), hopefully I will have some luck with this new mix. I have tried Off and Autan, Off cream has been the better of the 2, but still not so flash. For itchy bites, try using some vicks vaporub, it kind of gives it a nice burning sensation (better than the itching!) and also cools you down a bit.
I think the main problem with a lot of bug repellents is that you sweat it off in a short amount of time. Long tops haven't even worked so well as the hungry mossies in Palenque managed to bite thru them - we had to wear 2 layers, boy that was hot! I have read in some travel guides that treating your clothes and mosquito nets with permethrin is good, however I never found permethrin in the States before we left on our journey or in Mexico - is it a mythical substance??
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