Worried About DEET? Don’t Be, Experts Say
Is DEET safe? You'll find a number of people who believe DEET is harmful and have been using all natural methods of repelling mosquitos and other biting insects. Let's back up a bit: In 2002, a study concluded that DEET is in fact among the most effective ways to prevent bites.
What is DEET? Also known as diethyltoluamide, it works by blocking the CO2 receptors in the nose-like appendage a mosquito uses to probe a person's skin for blood. So using DEET means the bugs will still land on you, but they will not bite.
So, we back to square one. DEET is the most effective bug spray, but is it safe?
Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, says DEET is "nearly always harmless" when applied appropriately.
“It is very safe. Some people are sensitive and may have a skin reaction, but it’s not harmful otherwise.”
Jeffrey Bloomquist, a professor of insecticide toxicology adds, "There are no significant health risks when using DEET repellents in the general population, either in adults or children." Time magazine reports.
Insect bites are no doubt annoying, but with West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease hiding in these winged-vermins, I would choose the most effective repellant available. But please, don't just spray it on your child's face. Spray your hands first and then apply.
It's also not recommended to use a combination product of insect repellent and sunscreen. Use them separately and only as directed.
Consumer Reports tested bug sprays in spring of 2018 and found that "products with 15 to 30 percent DEET can provide long-lasting protection against mosquitoes and ticks; there’s no need to use higher concentrations." They went on to say that all natural methods, or products with plant oils, including cedar, cinnamon, citronella, clove, geranium, lemongrass, rosemary, and peppermint—provided little protection, often failing in their tests within a half-hour.
Everyone can decide for themselves but don't let the mosquitos and ticks ruin a perfectly good camping trip.