Repellent and DEET
Wearing long sleeves
and pants is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family
against mosquito bites, as is using mosquito repellent that contains DEET.
Use insect repellent with DEET whenever you're outside... in the backwoods
and in the back yard!
Link: New Repellents Approved (CDC)
Myths and Folk Remedies
We do not endorse any folk remedies to prevent mosquito bites such
as using garlic, bananas, vanilla extract, dryer sheets, Vicks Vaporub,
marigolds, or taking massive amounts of vitamins.
Q. Why should I
use insect repellent?
A. Insect repellents help people reduce their exposure to mosquito bites
and allow them to continue to play and work outdoors.
Q. When should
I use mosquito repellent?
A. Apply repellent when you are going to be outdoors and will be at risk
for getting bitten by mosquitoes.
Q. What time of
day is best?
A. Many of the mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus are especially
likely to bite around dusk and dawn. If you are outdoors around these
times of the day, it is important to apply repellent. The safest decision
is to apply repellent whenever you are outdoors.
Q. How often should
it be reapplied?
A. Follow the directions on the product you are using in order to determine
how frequently you need to reapply repellent. Higher percentages of DEET
is not more effective, it just lasts longer between applications. Sweating,
perspiration or getting wet may mean that you need to reapply repellent
Q. Is a repellent
containing DEET safe?
A. Yes, products containing DEET are very safe when used according to
directions. Because DEET is so widely used, a great deal of testing has
been done. Over the long history of DEET use, very few incidents of toxic
reactions to DEET have occurred when the product is used properly. (DEET
may also be listed on product ingredients as N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide,
also known as N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide.)
Q. Can I use an
insect repellent containing DEET and sunscreen at the same time?
A. Yes. People can and should use both sunscreen and DEET when they are
outdoors. Apply sunscreen first, followed by repellent containing DEET.
Follow the instructions for proper application of each product.
To protect from both
sun exposure and insect bites, you can also wear long sleeves and long
pants. You can also apply insect repellent containing DEET or permethrin
to your clothing, rather than directly to your skin.
Q. Are non-DEET
repellents such as Skin-So-Soft and plant-based lotions effective ?
A. Some non-DEET repellent products also provide some protection from
mosquito bites when applied directly to skin. However, studies have suggested
that other products do not offer the same level of protection, or that
protection does not last as long. A soybean-oil-based product has been
shown to provide protection only for a period of time similar to products
with a low concentration of DEET. Other products are not likely to offer
the same degree of protection from mosquito bites as those containing
New Repellents Approved (CDC)
Q. Are there
any risks due to using repellents containing DEET?
A. Use of
these products may cause skin reactions in rare cases. If you suspect
a reaction to this product, discontinue use, wash the treated skin, and
call your doctor or local poison control center. If you go to a doctor,
take the product with you.
Cases of serious reactions to products containing DEET have been related
to misuse of the product, such as swallowing, using over broken skin,
and using for multiple days without washing skin in between use. Always
follow the instructions on the product label.
Q. Is DEET safe
for pregnant women?
A. There are no reported adverse events following use of repellents containing
DEET in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Q. Is DEET safe for use on children?
A. Repellent products must state any age restriction on the label. If there is none, the EPA has not required a restriction on the use of the product.
You may apply a product containing up to 30% DEET on any child over two months of age. Do not let children apply it themselves, and be sure everyone washes their hands well so that they do not get anything in their eyes or mouth. Always follow directions carefully.
Q. Is Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus safe for use on children?
A. According to the label, oil of lemon eucalyptus products should NOT be used on children under 3 years of age.
If possible, avoid mosquitoes by keeping kids indoors at dawn and dusk when the bugs are most active. Mosquitoes are not active during the heat of the day.
Have kids wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors. Babies can be protected from mosquitoes by covering their carrier in mosquito netting or thin fabric.
American Academy of Pediatrics Link
Persons who are concerned about using DEET or other products on children
may wish to consult their health care provider for advice. The National
Pesticide Information Center (NPIC)
can also provide information through a toll-free number, 1-800-858-7378
Q. How long does
the West Nile virus remain in a persons body after they are infected?
A. There is no scientific evidence indicating that people can be chronically
infected with West Nile virus. What remain in a persons body for
long periods of time are antibodies and memory white blood
cells (T-lymphocytes) that the body produces to the virus. These antibodies
last for years, and may last for the rest of a persons life. Antibodies
are what many diagnostic tests look for when testing blood. Both antibodies
and memory T-lymphocytes provide future protection from the
Q. If a person
contracts West Nile virus, does that person develop a natural immunity
to future infection by the virus?
A. It is assumed that immunity will be lifelong; however, it may wane
in later years. Continue to use insect repellent with DEET to prevent
any further mosquito bites.
Fact sheets (EPA)
for Children (AAP)
repellent information (CDC)
and Answers (CDC)
Nile Information Pages (Colo.)
Print a personal protection
a home and garden checklist
a DEET brochure
Print a DEET brochure
DEET Online Website
New Repellents Approved (CDC)
Spraying in Colorado
listing of commercial pesticide applicators licensed in Colorado
more information call the toll-free
Colorado West Nile Virus HelpLine
1- 877- 462-2911
Open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
CDC West Nile Virus InfoLines
Hearing-impaired TDD: 1-866-874-2646