Picaridin (KBR 3023). Studies have
shown that picaridin works as well as low concentrations of DEET and that no
serious toxicity occurs to those who use it. Unlike DEET, picaridin is
odorless, does not feel greasy or sticky, is less likely to irritate the skin,
and does not damage plastics or fabrics.4 The American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends not using picaridin on children younger
than 2 months.
P-menthane 3,8-diol. This
insect repellent is commonly known as lemon eucalyptus oil. When oil of lemon
eucalyptus was tested against mosquitoes found in the U.S., it provided
protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET. It provides
up to 2 hours of protection against mosquito bites. Do not apply more than
twice per day, and do not use this product on children younger than 3
Permethrin. This insecticide works
on contact to kill mosquitoes. You spray it on clothing and other fabrics, such
as mosquito netting and tent walls. Permethrin should not be applied directly
to the skin. Putting permethrin on clothing and applying DEET to exposed skin
may offer better protection from mosquitoes than either permethrin or DEET
alone. Clothes (such as pants, shirts, and hats) that are pretreated with
permethrin also are available and help protect against mosquito bites.
IR3535. This repellent is a chemical similar to the amino
acid alanine. Tests have shown that it can protect against mosquito bites for
up to 1 hour.1
Soybean oil. Insect repellents that contain 2% soybean oil provide 1 to 4 hours
of protection from mosquitoes when applied to the skin. Soybean oil is safe to
use on infants and children.
Products that do not provide protection against bites for long periods of time
Citronella oil. Citronella as an insect repellent
is not as safe or effective as products that contain DEET. Citronella applied
to the skin provides between 30 minutes to 2 hours protection from mosquitoes.
Some people develop skin rashes or itchiness when using citronella skin
products because they must be reapplied often. Do not use citronella skin
products on children younger than 2 years. Other kinds of citronella products,
such as citronella candles and citronella wrist, neck, and ankle bands, do not
prevent mosquito bites.
Other plant oils.
Other plant oils, such as lavender and geranium, provide less than 30 minutes
of protection against mosquitoes. So these products are not recommended.
Products sold as repellents that do not work well to prevent bites
There are other products advertised as
mosquito repellents that do not effectively prevent mosquito bites. These
- Electronic (sometimes called ultrasonic)
- Electrocuting devices, which are often called "bug
- Mosquito traps.
- Geranium house
- Citronella candles.
- Taking thiamine (vitamin
- Skin moisturizers that do not contain approved
- Wrist, ankle, and neck bands that contain
repellents, such as DEET or citronella.