Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

Using Bug Spray

Using bug spray can keep you safe by protecting you from biting bugs. But most bug sprays won't do much to protect you against stinging insects such as bees, wasps, and hornets. Insect repellents use a variety of ingredients to make you virtually invisible to insects looking for someone to bite.   

It’s important to follow label directions carefully. Beyond that, try these tips:

Recommended Related to Allergies

Relief for Allergies While Traveling

Living with allergies at home is hard enough. But traveling with allergies raises a whole new set of challenges in getting relief for allergies. Whether you travel every week for business or just once a year to visit the grandparents, it’s important to head out prepared. Traveling with allergies doesn’t have to be torture!

Read the Relief for Allergies While Traveling article > >

  • Choose a bug spray with a lower concentration of DEET. A spray with 30% DEET is as effective as stronger products.
  • Apply just enough to cover exposed skin and clothing. Don’t use it under your clothes.
  • Don’t spray directly on your face. Spray it on your hands and pat your face.
  • Don’t apply bug spray near your eyes or mouth. Use just a little around your ears.
  • Don’t use on skin with cuts, sores, or irritation.
  • Use bug spray only in well-ventilated areas. Don’t spray near food.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
  • Avoid products that combine DEET and sunscreen, because the instructions for using the two products are different.

For children:

  • Do not use products with lemon eucalyptus oil on children under the age of 3.
  • Don’t let a small child put on bug spray on their own.  Put some on your hands, then use your hands to put it on the child.
  • Don't apply bug spray to a young child’s hands, because they may put their hands in their mouth.

In rare cases, bug spray can cause irritation or allergic reactions, too. If you think you’re having a reaction, stop using the spray. Wash your skin well with soap and water, and call a poison control center.

If you get bug spray in your eyes, flush them with water and call your doctor or poison control center. If you go to the doctor, take the bug spray with you.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on October 23, 2012

Today on WebMD

man blowing nose
Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
Allergy capsule
Breathe easier with these products.
 
cat on couch
Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Which ones affect you?
 

woman sneezing
Slideshow
Bottle of allergy capsules and daisies
Article
 
Urban blossoms
Slideshow
Woman blowing nose
Slideshow
 

Woman with itchy watery eyes
Slideshow
Allergy prick test
VIDEO
 
Man sneezing into tissue
Tools
woman with duster crinkling nose
Quiz