Insect repellents

Use of insect repellents strongly recommended by the CDC and EPA to prevent infections transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks.

They should be applied to exposed skin and used in conjunction with other preventive measures such as wearing long sleeve shirts, pants, and avoiding outdoor activities during peak mosquito biting times.

Mosquitoes are known to transmit Zika, chikungunya, dengue, West Nile, eastern equine encephalitis, and yellow fever viruses, as well as malaria.

Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Ricketsia disease and viruses such as Powassan virus.

N,N-diethyl-m-toulamide (DEET) is highly effective against mosquito and tick bites, and also repels chiggers, fleas, gnats, and some flies.

DEET is available in concentrations from 5-99%, with higher concentrations providing longer lasting protection , but concentrations above 50% do not improve efficacy.

The CDC recommends concentrations of 20% or greater for protection against mosquitoes and ticks.

The concentrations of 30-34% protect against mosquitoes for up to 12 hours.

DEET is generally appreciated topically to be safe with rare toxic and allergic reactions.

DEET induceD rashes have been reported in patients and times individuals complain of oily or sticky sensation on their skin.

DEET can damage clothing made from synthetic fibers and plastics on eyeglass frames and watches.

Insect repellent

Refers to a substance applied to skin, clothing or other services which discourages insects from landing or climbing on that surface.

Insect repellents help prevent and control the outbreak of insect-borne and other arthropod-bourne diseases such as malaria, Lyme disease, dengue fever, bubonic plague, river blindness and West Nile fever.

Pest animals commonly serving as vectors for disease include: fleas, flies, and mosquitos and the arachnid ticks.

Some insect repellents are insecticides.

Most insect repellents discourage insects and send them away.

Common insect repellents:

Common synthetic insect repellents:

Methyl anthranilate and other anthranilate-based insect repellents

Benzaldehyde, for bees

DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide)

Dimethyl carbate

Dimethyl phthalate






Tricyclodecenyl allyl ether

DEET is still the most efficient substance available and the substance of choice for stays in malaria regions.

All the synthetics insect repellents have almost 100% repellency for the first 2 hours, where the natural repellent products were most effective for the first 30 to 60 minutes, and required reapplication to be effective over several hours.

Permethrin is recommended as protection against mosquitoes for clothing, gear, or bed nets.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus to be more effective than other plant-based treatments, with a similar effectiveness to low concentrations of DEET.

Neem oil is mosquito repellent for up to 12 hours.

Citronella oil has mosquito repellency, but requires reapplication after 30 to 60 minutes.

Children may be at greater risk for adverse reactions to repellents, because their exposure may be greater.

in children only small amounts of repellent should be used and it should not be applied to the hands of young children to prevent accidental eye contact or indigestion.

Chemical exposures in pregnant women should be avoided when practical, as the fetus may be vulnerable.

About 30% of the US population uses DEET, and its likely seizure rate is only about one per 100 million users.

Workers with extensive DEET exposure are more likely to have insomnia, mood disturbances and impaired cognitive function than are lesser exposed co-workers.

Citronella oil has little or no toxicity, however, the EPA also states that citronella may irritate skin and cause dermatitis in certain individuals.

Many naturally occurring plant sources have been used as a repellent to certain insects.

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