Although using any repellent is most important, choosing the right active ingredient for your individual needs can make repelling bugs a painless process. Consider the length of time you’ll be outside and the type of activity you’re planning. There are a variety of insect repellents available, ranging from the familiar DEET to newer ingredients like picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and geraniol.
DEET: DEET has been used as an insect repellent in the United States for more than 50 years. It’s recommended for those spending longer periods of time outdoors in more heavily infested conditions. Recommended by the CDC for effective, long-lasting protection against mosquitoes that may transmit the Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya and West Nile viruses, DEET-based products are available in a wide variety of formulas, including aerosols, sprays or wipes. Length of protection ranges from two to 10 hours (depending on the percentage of DEET in the product). Formulas with 30 percent concentrations or lower can be used on children ages 2 months and older.
Beyond just choosing the right active ingredient to fit your needs, you should also consider other factors when picking a repellent. What will your activity level be – do you need a sweat-proof or waterproof formula? How severe will the insect conditions be? You would probably choose DEET over lemon eucalyptus if you were hiking in a rainforest, for example. How often are you willing to reapply? Remember, the higher the percentage of active ingredient, the longer one application will last.
Whatever repellent product you choose, apply it according to the label directions. Apply the repellent to your hands first, then spread it on your skin, avoiding your eyes and mouth. Remember that heavier application does not equate to better protection; use just enough repellent to cover your exposed skin and outer clothing. It’s not necessary to apply repellent under your clothing. Reapply as needed and as directed on the label.