Insect repellent helps reduce your exposure to mosquito bites that may carry West Nile Virus or other diseases, and allows you to continue to play, work, and enjoy the outdoors with a lower risk of disease. For more information, please visit the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/faq/repellent.html
Which repellents are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control?
When EPA registers a repellent, they evaluate the product for efficacy and potential effects on human beings and the environment. EPA registration means that EPA does not expect a product, when used according to the instructions label, to cause unreasonable adverse effects to human health or the environment.
Of the active ingredients registered with the EPA, two have demonstrated a higher degree of efficacy in the peer-reviewed, scientific literature.* Products containing these active ingredients typically provide longer-lasting protection than others:
- DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide)
- Picaridin (KBR 3023)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-menthane 3,8-diol (PMD)], a plant based repellent, is also registered with EPA. In two recent scientific publications, when oil of lemon eucalyptus was tested against mosquitoes found in the US it provided protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET.
When should I use repellents?
You should use repellents even if you are only going outside for a few minutes. Many mosquitoes bite between dusk and dawn. If you're outside during these hours, pay special attention to using repellent.
Which mosquito repellents work best?
The most effective repellents contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) or permethrin. You can use DEET directly on skin and on clothing, while permethrin is used to treat clothing. Both have proven to be very effective against a variety of biting insects. The U.S. EPA provides a search tool to assist in finding a repellent that is right for you (http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/#searchform).
What are the general considerations for using products containing DEET safely?
- Always follow the instructions on the product label.
- Cover exposed skin or clothing.
- Don't apply repellent under clothing.
- Do not apply repellent to cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
- Wash treated skin with soap and water after returning indoors.
- Do not spray aerosol or pump products in enclosed areas.
- Do not apply aerosol or pump products directly to your face. Spray your hands and then rub them carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
- When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid children's eyes and mouth and use it sparingly around their ears.
- Do not apply repellent to children's hands because they may put their hands in their mouths.
- Keep repellents out of reach of children.
How can I get more information about repellents?
For more information about using repellents safely please consult the National Pesticide Information Center for a variety of fact sheets.
* Information obtained from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.