DEET Safe or Not DEET Safe or Not

Posted on by Jackson Fung

Recent reports show DEET is generally safe to use on the skin under normal use. However the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US states the following for children,

  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
  • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
  • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
  • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
  • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.

History of DEET

DEET was developed in 1944 by the USDA for pesticide on farm fields and later used by the US army in World War II for jungle warfare.  By the late 1950s DEET was used to manufactur insect repellants to the general public.

DEET also called "N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide", it works by blocking insects to sense human sweat and breath.  Studies show that DEET is in fact a very effective chemical insect repellent.

Concentration of DEET

Concentration of DEET in skin application products ranges from 4% to 100%.  The CDC of United States says, "Higher concentrations of DEET may have a longer repellent effect.".  Some reports compare the concentration to the hours of protection and found that 20%-34% offered 3 to 6 hours of protection, and 100% offered 12 hours of protection.  However, the CDC says concentrations over 50% provide no added protection.

Side Effects

Most DEET products advise not to be use under clothing or on damaged skin, and washed off when no longer needed.  DEET can be an irritant that causes irritation, redness, rash, and swelling to the skin.

Icaridin (Picaridin)

Picaridin (INCI: hydroxyethyl isobutyl piperidine carboxylate) developed by Bayer in the 1980s.  It is a synthetic insect repellent developed from plant extract that produces table black pepper.  Picaridin has been reported to be as effective as DEET but without the side effects of DEET.

What do we think?

DEET has been the champion of insect repellent for the past 60+ years, but now we have alternatives that are just as effective as DEET such as, Picaridin, and Lemon Eucalyptus Oil.  However, you have to weigh your own risk, if you are going to the wild, you may want to use DEET.  Otherwise in general and for children, use the more natural alternatives.

For more information you may visit CDC article.

Recent reports show DEET is generally safe to use on the skin under normal use. However the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US states the following for children,

  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
  • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
  • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
  • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
  • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.

History of DEET

DEET was developed in 1944 by the USDA for pesticide on farm fields and later used by the US army in World War II for jungle warfare.  By the late 1950s DEET was used to manufactur insect repellants to the general public.

DEET also called "N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide", it works by blocking insects to sense human sweat and breath.  Studies show that DEET is in fact a very effective chemical insect repellent.

Concentration of DEET

Concentration of DEET in skin application products ranges from 4% to 100%.  The CDC of United States says, "Higher concentrations of DEET may have a longer repellent effect.".  Some reports compare the concentration to the hours of protection and found that 20%-34% offered 3 to 6 hours of protection, and 100% offered 12 hours of protection.  However, the CDC says concentrations over 50% provide no added protection.

Side Effects

Most DEET products advise not to be use under clothing or on damaged skin, and washed off when no longer needed.  DEET can be an irritant that causes irritation, redness, rash, and swelling to the skin.

Icaridin (Picaridin)

Picaridin (INCI: hydroxyethyl isobutyl piperidine carboxylate) developed by Bayer in the 1980s.  It is a synthetic insect repellent developed from plant extract that produces table black pepper.  Picaridin has been reported to be as effective as DEET but without the side effects of DEET.

What do we think?

DEET has been the champion of insect repellent for the past 60+ years, but now we have alternatives that are just as effective as DEET such as, Picaridin, and Lemon Eucalyptus Oil.  However, you have to weigh your own risk, if you are going to the wild, you may want to use DEET.  Otherwise in general and for children, use the more natural alternatives.

For more information you may visit CDC article.