Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

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 at School

Relief for allergies at school and day care is an urgent problem for many parents and kids. Consider the statistics: As many as 40% of children in the U.S. suffer from seasonal allergies, and one in every 17 children under the age of 3 has a food allergy. How can you work with teachers, coaches, the school nurse -- and your family -- to keep allergies at school under control? How can you help your child avoid missing important class days and be comfortable and productive while in school? If your...

Read the Relief for Allergies at School article > >

  • Choose a bug spray with a lower concentration of DEET. A spray with 30% DEET is as effective as stronger products.
  • Look for a graphic created by the Environmental Protection Agency that indicates how long the product will protect you from tick and mosquito bites.
  • 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 Luqman Seidu, MD on October 26, 2014

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?

blowing nose
woman with sore throat
lone star tick
Woman blowing nose

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cat lying on shelf
Allergy prick test
Man sneezing into tissue
Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching