Every year individuals that venture in the outdoors are faced with more and more choices of insect repellant. We are going to clear up some myths and focus on truths in insect repellants.
The most common and most purchased is DEET Diethyltoluamide. It was developed in 1944 by the USDA United States Department of Agriculture for the United States Armed forces. It was initially used as an insecticide for crops. It was later approved by the CDC. The CDC advises no more than 30 % DEET and under 2 months 15 % or less. Survive Outdoors advises no DEET under 6 months.
FACT: The percentage of DEET does imply it is stronger it indicates the frequency of application. In other words 100 % DEET will last about 12 hours where 20-30 % DEET will last about 4-6 hours. However the absorption to the body and skin sensitivity has been shown to be worse with higher concentrations.
FACT: In 2010 the medical field realized that the Degree fever mosquito became resistant to DEET. If you are traveling to a location where the Dengue mosquito is prevalent do not use DEET.
In 2001 Picaridin was developed by the German company Bayer and in also was used by the Australian Armed Forces. It was approved in 2005 in the United States. It is colorless and odorless and a great alternative to DEET. It is also safe in children.
About 6 % of Picaridin is absorbed in the body and all of it is excreted out in 24 hours. No long term effects from longitudinal studies.
Developed in 1973 it was first used to treat head lice, and scabies. It comes in a cream and a shampoo and is found in an OTC over the counter mixture called NIX. This percentage is much lower than the prescribed version which is Elimite. In 2017 Permetharin was the ranked 410th as the most prescribed medication.
We mention Skin So Soft repellant by Avon NOT as a mosquito or tick repellant but as a product that works well for one flying insect. That is, biting Midges. In the Midwest these little nuances bring quite a few visitors to the urgent care clinic where I work. In the North the are called No-see-ums. Tiny flying midges that bite and often one will receive a prominent histamine reaction of a red raised wheal and it will become itchy. Other products work well too however I have good results with Skin So Soft.
For all my “natural remedy” followers I am sorry to break the news to you but these products do not even come close to the above products. With the risk of West Nile, Zika and Lyme we strongly discourage these products.
Reviews show it works as well as DEET however this author still sees mixed reviews in heavy mosquito and tick related areas. It should be addressed that ticks engage in “questing” hanging on a weed or branch waiting to grasp onto your leg or arm. Thermacell will not protect against this behavior.