As soon as it gets warmer, they show up again. These irritating pests, only a few millimeters in size, stick their proboscis into the skin of a human victim to suck out their blood. In the process, they can transmit many dangerous diseases: We are talking about mosquitoes. An effective active substance, Saltidin® from LANXESS, keeps mosquitoes from biting.
The mosquito can’t get there anymore
It’s happened to almost everyone–a soft whine in the room at night startles the sleeper. But usually it’s already too late: A hungry mosquito has bitten, and intense itching around the bite banishes sleep. But worse than the itching is the danger of becoming infected with a disease. Globalization means that not only domestic mosquitoes, but also tropical blood-suckers are on the hunt day and night. They can transmit malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya, or, as happened recently in Latin America, the Zika virus.
After mating, the female mosquito needs blood for the development of her eggs. Male mosquitoes, on the other hand, are peaceful. The aggressive females are attracted by carbon dioxide, which humans exhale when they breathe, as well as by sweat and bacteria. Here is where the active substance, icaridin, which the LANXESS subsidiary Saltigo sells under the trade name Saltidin® to manufacturers of insect repellents, comes into play. It briefly blocks the scent receptors of the insects. They no longer perceive human exhalations and don’t bite. In contrast to insecticides, this does not kill the insects, but only keeps them from biting or piercing. Ticks, horseflies and other biting flies give a wide berth to areas rubbed with Saltidin ®.
Guide formulas give manufacturers leeway
“Saltidin® offers very good protection if the instructions on the product are followed. It is important to apply the active substance on the whole skin surface that has to be protected. Mosquitoes will find unprotected spots even if they are right next to sprayed areas,” explains Beate Tombeux from Saltigo.
Since Saltidin® is not applied to the skin at full concentration, the product manager developed guide formulas with active substance concentrations of 10 to 20 percent. They make it easier for manufacturers to develop insect repellents. These guide formulas include various product forms such as emulsions, pump sprays, gels, aerosols and wax sticks. Saltigo had these tested by independent institutes for stability, toxicity and skin compatibility. Advantage for insect repellent manufacturers: They can change the basic formula as they wish by, for example, changing perfumes. In addition, they know the additives and emulsifiers and can cite the available studies to have their product registered.
“When preparing the formulas, skin compatibility is of special importance. We use substances of low allergy potential, avoid preservatives and pay attention to suitable emulsifiers. Cosmetic additives must not penetrate. Ultimately the active substance should remain on the skin and not be drawn into it”, emphasizes Tombeux. More than 100 different products with different Saltidin® concentrations are available for purchase in supermarkets, drug stores and pharmacies in more than 40 countries.
Government health authorities also recognize the effectiveness of the active substance. Saltidin® is recommended by the World Health Organization of the United Nations (WHO) for prophylaxis against malaria, dengue and chikungunya. It offers protection from annoying attacks by biting insects for up to 14 hours at 20 % concentration.
The demand for the active substance has increased greatly this year. The reason for this is the spread of the Zika virus, especially in Latin America. The virus was detected in patients’ blood samples in some European countries as well. In March 2016 the WHO called on the countries of the European region to be well prepared to protect their populations from the spread of the Zika virus and its possible neurological complications.
The affected individuals had previously become infected during travel abroad. The Zika virus is suspected of being responsible for causing malformations in unborn infants. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that if travel to affected areas is unavoidable, anti-mosquito agents containing, among other things, the active substance icaridin should be used by pregnant and breast-feeding women, as well as children from two months of age.