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Apply Repellents Safely

Use insect repellents safely. Read and follow all instructions on the label. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends the following precautions when using insect repellents:

  • Apply repellents only to exposed skin or clothing as directed on the product label. Do not use under clothing.
  • Never apply a repellent to cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • Do not apply to eyes and mouth, and apply sparingly around the ears. When using sprays, do not spray directly into your face; spray on your hand first and then apply to your face.
  • Do not allow your child to handle the product, or apply the repellent to your child's hands. When using a repellent on your child, apply to your hands and then putting on the child.
  • Do not spray in enclosed areas, such as inside a car. Avoid breathing a repellent spray, and do not use it near food.
  • Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin or clothing. Heavy application and saturation is generally not necessary for effectiveness. If biting insects do not respond to a thin film, apply a bit more.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water and bathe. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly in a day or several days in a row. Also, wash treated clothing before wearing it again.
  • Stop using the repellent, wash treated skin, and call your local poison control center if you suspect that your or your child are reacting to an insect repellent. If you see your doctor, take the repellent with you.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised October 14, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 14, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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