The science behind the insect repellent patch is actually quite simple.
You may hear many people say that they avoid getting bitten by eating lots of Marmite or taking Vitamin B1 tablets
I am sure that you, like me, are sceptical, so let me explain why and how the insect repellent patches work.
They work on the assumption that Vitamin B1 – also known as thiamine – is a natural insect repellent. This fact is not clinically proven, but it is a commonly held belief – so much so, if you go to your local pharmacist ands ask them for a natural insect repellent as an alternative to a DEET based product, they will probably recommend these insect repellent patches – if they stock them - otherwise, they may suggest taking Vitamin B1 Tablets or even eating more Marmite - a product rich in vitamin B1 that you either love or hate!
You could do the above and eat more vitamin B1; however most of anything you take orally is “lost” in the stomach and your body “gets rid of” through your urine. What you are trying to achieve is for your body to get rid of the excess vitamin B1 through your natural perspiration and not your wee! This is because as your body gets rid of the excess vitamin through natural perspiration it gives off a mild “yeasty” aroma. An aroma that is virtually undetectable to the human nose but the bugs don’t like it – so they keep away.
Now, I am not a doctor or a scientist, but have you noticed how some people get bitten and others don’t, perhaps this is to do with the vitamin B1 levels in their diet and how much their body absorbs and then gets rid of – maybe their natural body odour is already giving off the mild vitamin b1 aroma, after all everyone is different.
I have explained why the patch works, so now lets’ look at how the patch works.
The insect repellent patch is a “transdermal” patch, similar to a stop smoking “nicotine patch”.
The patch the acts like a reservoir of vitamin B1 that your body constantly draws upon and as the body is constantly drawing upon the vitamin, you body constantly has too much, because it constantly has too much, your body is constantly getting rid of the excess through your normal perspiration. Thus your body is constantly giving off this very mild “yeasty” aroma, virtually undetectable, and so it is your whole body that becomes the insect repellent – the patch is just a delivery mechanism.
So the main difference between taking Vitamin B1 orally and the insect repellent patch is that orally you will get peak and trough levels and loose most of the thiamine when you go to the toilet, whereas with the insect repellent patch you achieve a constant level of thiamine that comes out of every pore of your skin.
Because the patch is a delivery mechanism, and your body is now the repellent you can therefore wear the patch on any part of the body – we recommend the lower back or even your bum!
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Listen to a BBC Radio 4 clip, explaining that Mosquitoes are attracted and repelled by the bodies Natural Aroma - why some people get bitten an others don’t!