Choose the Best Insect Repellent
In warm weather mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and other insects become annoying pests—and potential carriers of disease. So what’s your best protection? There are things you can do:
- Avoid cultivating insect habitats—Drain standing water where mosquitoes breed.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants—Wear them especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wear insect repellent—This is the most effective protection from insect bites.
There are two kinds of insect repellents: man-made chemicals and plant-based essential oils.
The best-known chemical repellent is DEET—the common name for N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide. DEET is the main ingredient in many insect repellents. Repellents with DEET have been shown to be more effective than other products in preventing mosquito bites in particular. Repellents with DEET are available as sprays and lotions. Check the product label for information about how much DEET the repellent contains. The more DEET a repellent contains, the longer it can protect you from insect bites.
Another man-made product is picaridin. Picaridin is shown to be as effective as DEET in repelling several types of mosquitoes, but does not last as long. The effects wear off after about 1.5 hours.
Plant-based essential oils include citronella, cedar, eucalyptus, and soybean. These repellents work as well as those containing picaridin and last the same amount of time.
Last reviewedSeptember 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.