Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy on March 28, 2016
CDC: "Insect Repellent Use & Safety."; KidsHealth.org: "Are Insect Repellents With DEET Safe for Kids?"; Environmental Working Group: "100% DEET: Good Bug Protection or Bad Idea?"
© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
If you're looking for an alternative, sprays with an ingredient called Picaridin are safe and work well too. They just don't last as long. Look for a 20% concentration. You can also keep mosquitoes away by treating your clothes with Permethrin. The best protection comes from wearing treated clothing and using a spray with DEET. But most times, just one of those will be enough for people in the US.
Whatever you use, make sure you follow these instructions. Don't spray over cuts or irritated skin. Spray it on your hands to rub it on your face, and wash your hands afterwards. Use just enough to cover your body. Using more won't protect you any more. Read the label to find out how often to reapply. And when you get back inside, wash your skin off with soap and water. For WebMD, I'm Dr. Michael Smith.
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