Elcosh : updated information regarding mosquito repellents april 22, 2005
Updated Information regarding Mosquito Repellents
April 22, 2005
Repellents are an important tool to assist people in protecting themselves from
A wide variety of insect repellent products are available. CDC recommends the use of products containingactive ingredients which have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) foruse as repellents applied to skin and clothing. EPA registration of repellent active ingredients indicates thematerials have been reviewed and approved for efficacy and human safety when applied according to theinstructions on the label.
Of the active ingredients registered with the EPA, two have demonstrated a higher degree of efficacy inthe peer-reviewed, scientific literature *. Products containing these active ingredients typically providelonger-lasting protection than others:
Oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-menthane 3,8-diol (PMD)], a plant based repellent, is also registered with EPA.
In two recent scientific publications, when oil of lemon eucalyptus was tested against mosquitoes found inthe US it provided protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus has not been tested against mosquitoes that spread malaria and some otherdiseases which occur internationally. See CDC Travelers’ Health website( for specific recommendations concerning protection from insectswhen traveling outside the United States.
In addition, certain products which contain permethrin are recommended for use on clothing, shoes, bednets, and camping gear, and are registered with EPA for this use. Permethrin is highly effective as aninsecticide and as a repellent. Permethrin-treated clothing repels and kills ticks, mosquitoes, and otherarthropods and retains this effect after repeated laundering. The permethrin insecticide should bereapplied following the label instructions. Some commercial products are available pretreated withpermethrin.
Length of protection from mosquito bites varies with the amount of active ingredient, ambienttemperature, amount of physical activity/perspiration, any water exposure, abrasive removal, and otherfactors. For long duration protection use a long lasting (micro-encapsulated) formula and re-apply asnecessary, according to label instructions.
EPA recommends the following precautions when using insect repellents:
• Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the product label.) Do not
• Never use repellents over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
Updated Information regarding Mosquito RepellentsApril 22, 2005(continued from previous page)
• Do not apply to eyes or mouth, and apply sparingly around ears. When using sprays, do not
spray directly on face—spray on hands first and then apply to face.
• Do not allow children to handle the product. When using on children, apply to your own hands
first and then put it on the child. You may not want to apply to children’s hands.
• Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing. Heavy application and
saturation are generally unnecessary for effectiveness. If biting insects do not respond to a thinfilm of repellent, then apply a bit more.
• After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe. This is particularly
important when repellents are used repeatedly in a day or on consecutive days. Also, washtreated clothing before wearing it again. (This precaution may vary with different repellents—check the product label.)
• If you or your child get a rash or other bad reaction from an insect repellent, stop using the
repellent, wash the repellent off with mild soap and water, and call a local poison controlcenter for further guidance. If you go to a doctor because of the repellent, take the repellentwith you to show the doctor.
Note that the label for products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus specifies that they should not to beused on children under the age of three years. Other than those listed above, EPA does not recommendany additional precautions for using registered repellents on pregnant or lactating women, or on children.
For additional information regarding the use of repellent on children, please see CDC’s Frequently AskedQuestions about Repellent Use. [
DEET-based repellents applied according to label instructions may be used along with a separatesunscreen. No data are available at this time regarding the use of other active repellent ingredients incombination with a sunscreen.
See r additional information on using EPA-registered repellents.
*Fradin MS, Day JF. Comparative efficacy of insect repellents against mosquito bites. N Engl J Med.
Barnard DR, Xue RD. Laboratory evaluation of mosquito repellents against Aedes albopictus
, and Ochlerotatus triseriatus
(Diptera: Culicidae). J Med Entomol. 2004 Jul;41(4):726-30.
800-CDC-INFO (English and Spanish) or 888-232-6348 (TTY).
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