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Mosquito 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)

Mosquito 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 more frequently.

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 DEET.

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 or npic.orst.edu.

Q. How long does the West Nile virus remain in a person’s 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 person’s 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 person’s life. Antibodies are what many diagnostic tests look for when testing blood. Both antibodies and “memory” T-lymphocytes provide future protection from the virus.

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.

DEET- Fact sheets (EPA)
DEET- Products for Children (AAP)

Insect repellent information (CDC)
Questions and Answers (CDC)
West Nile Information Pages (Colo.)
Print a personal protection tip sheet
Print a home and garden checklist
Print a DEET brochure
Print a DEET brochure for seniors
DEET Online Website
New Repellents Approved (CDC)

Pesticide Spraying in Colorado
Statewide listing of commercial pesticide applicators licensed in Colorado

For 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
English: 1-888-246-2675
Español: 1-888-246-2857
Hearing-impaired TDD: 1-866-874-2646