Summertime is fast approaching, which means it’s time to stock up on mosquito and insect repellent. And these days, there’s no shortage of plastic wristbands that promise to keep the bugs away. Many of them even claim to be eco-friendly and all-natural. But do insect-repelling wristbands work? Or is it just an advertising ploy?
What the experts have to say
According to university experts and scientific studies, some might work, maybe. At least it will for a while. The available data doesn’t really provide a definitive answer.
A 2009 study conducted by researchers from India saw a big impact from DEET-soaked ankle and wristbands. But, a University of Florida study a few years earlier found no bug protection at all from three varieties of commercially available wristbands.
“Clearly they help,” said Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, an infectious diseases physician at Howard University and the George Washington University HIV/AIDS Institute.
“There’s not much research behind the wristbands,” countered Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, an entomologist at Cornell University.
What Viewpoints reviewers have to say
We don’t have many insect repellent wristbands on Viewpoints.com, but there is one with a few reviews, but reviewers don’t seem to be able to agree on effectiveness.
Bugband Insect Repellent Wristbands only have two reviews on Viewpoints, so it does not yet have a score. However, what this product claims to do does make it sound like the perfect solution to the mosquito bite prone. The wristbands come in a variety of colors including red, green, yellow, blue and black.
The way the Bugband Wristband is supposed to work is it releases vapors, which forms a protective shield around the wearer. The wearer of the wristband should be able to go swimming, or do other activities and still be protected for up to 120 hours. This includes protection from insects such as mosquitos, flies and gnats. Bugband is also deet free, which was part of the reason why reviewers bought it in the first place. However, they were split on whether or not it was effective.
“All in all, I think this product is somewhat effective in the REDUCING the number of insect bites, but I don’t think it completely ELIMINATES them. With that being said, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot. They retail for $4.99 and are much easier and obviously less messy than sprays of similar effectiveness.” –hookemhil, Reviewer since 2010
“I think it is a great newer idea and may just need a little twerking until it is really great… All you do is put it on your wrist and go. When it was extremely warm and hot it did get in the way and become a little annoying.” –AlyssaSwavely, Reviewer since 2013
Some things to consider when buying repellent
So what should you think the next time you’re looking in the bug spray aisle? Are the wristbands worth a try? Here are some things to keep in mind as you make your decision:
- As a synthetic chemical, DEET has fallen out of favor with many consumers worried about toxic effects on children or the environment, but it remains the most effective weapon against biting insects.
- Wristbands can be effective if they have a high dose of repellent, but many of them aren’t powerful enough to protect much more than your arm.
- Your individual body chemistry plays a huge role in how attractive you are to biting insects, so it’s often hard to make blanket claims about the effectiveness of a particular repellent. It also can be difficult to say with certainty whether a lack of bites is proof the product is working or simply the luck of the draw that night.
If you weigh your decision of insect repellent against these things, you should be able to buy the right kind for you and your family.
Editor’s note: If you have professional experience with insect repellents, Viewpoints is recruiting experts in priority product categories to write for our blog. Check out this overview of the Viewpoints Category Expert Program, including qualifications, compensation and how to apply.