Use DEET Safely
DEET is widely sold in different concentrations,
usually as a lotion, spray, or wipe to be used on the skin. While DEET is effective at small concentrations, higher concentrations
offer protection for a longer period of time. For example, about 5
percent DEET protects for about 90 minutes, while about 25 percent
DEET may provide about five hours of protection. The highest
recommended concentration is 30 percent.
DEET offers important protection, but must be
used safely. Here are some tips:
Apply insect repellents according to label
directions, only to exposed skin.
- If the label recommends applying the chemical to your
clothing, be sure to follow the instructions.
Apply only as often as the label recommends.
Usually, that means only once a day.
- When you return indoors, shower or wash your skin with soap
and water. Wash clothing to remove any remaining DEET.
- When applying DEET to children, apply it first to your hands
and then to their faces and skin. Avoid their hands, eyes, and mouths.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that products
containing DEET not be used on children under the age of 2 months.
- Sunscreens and products containing DEET can be used together.
It is better to use individual products rather than a combination product;
usually, DEET should be used only once a day while sunscreen needs to be
re-applied more often.
If you get insect repellent in your eyes, rinse
them in the shower or under running water for 15 minutes, then call the
National Capital Poison Center at
If someone swallows insect repellent, give them a
small amount of water to drink, then call the Poison Center right
There are other important steps you can take to
avoid insect bites.
To avoid mosquito bites:
Limit your outdoor time around dusk and dawn,
when mosquitoes are most active.
Wearing long pants, long sleeves, and hats
may also help.
Mosquito netting can be used on carriages and
Eliminate sources of standing water in
which mosquitoes can breed.
To avoid tick bites:
Wear light-colored long sleeved shirts and
long pants. Tuck pants legs into socks.
- Check all areas of your skin, including your scalp, after
returning indoors. If you find a tick, remove it carefully by grabbing the head
with tweezers and pulling gently.
- Call the Poison Center for further advice: