New London Hospital - Discover Health - Latest health news to help you stay well

Also in this issue

DEET Outlasts Other Mosquito Repellants

Understandably, many women are wary of spraying a chemical like N, N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide—better known as DEET—on themselves and their children. But after decades of scrutiny, experts are declaring that DEET is safe—and the best at keeping away mosquitoes.

DEET Places First, Eucalyptus Takes Second
A recent study compared widely available chemical and natural insect repellants containing one of the following ingredients:

  • DEET, in concentrations from 4.75% to 23.8%
  • IR3535, 7.5%
  • Soybean oil, 2%
  • Citronella, in concentrations from 0.1% to 25%
  • Eucalyptus oil

Out of all the products, the DEET-based ones guarded adults from mosquito bites the longest. Protection time increased with DEET concentrations. For example, DEET 4.75% lasted about 1½ hours. DEET 23.8% gave around 5 hours of protection.

Two natural repellents provided the best mosquito defense after DEET. The eucalyptus oil product kept adults bite-free for about 2 hours. The soy-based repellant guarded them for 1½ hours. The remaining repellants only offered protection for about 22 minutes or less.

Deal with DEET Correctly
Many experts say DEET is safe when used properly. Here are some general points to remember:

  • Pick a concentration that will last for as long as you think you'll be outside. But remember: DEET concentrations higher than 50% do not provide extended periods of protection.
  • Stick to a product with 30% or less DEET on children ages 2 months to 12. Avoid using DEET on infants younger than 2 months.
  • Use only enough repellant to cover your clothing and exposed skin. To protect your face, put some insect repellant on your hands and rub it on. Avoid eyes, mouth, cuts, and skin irritations.
  • Reapply DEET if you sweat heavily, get wet, or notice mosquitoes landing on you again.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water. Also, launder any clothes that you sprayed.

Last reviewed: July 2012

Don't Miss

Contact Us

The health information presented in this e-mail newsletter is intended for information purposes only and is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. This information should not be used to treat or diagnose a health condition. Always seek advice from a trained healthcare provider. To subscribe, click here to visit our newsletter sign-up page.

Privacy Policy.

To unsubscribe, click here. You will be taken off the list immediately. Thank you!

© Krames StayWell 2012.