Insect repellents can protect employees from mosquitoes and other insects, but both employers and employees should be careful when selecting and using an insect repellent. When using insect repellent, consider the following guidance:
- Always follow label precautions when using insect repellent.
- Use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. All of the EPA-registered active ingredients have demonstrated repellency, but some provide longer-lasting protection than others. Research suggests that repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) or picaridin (KBR 3023) typically provide longer-lasting protection than the other products, and oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-Menthane-3,8-diol) provides longer-lasting protection than other plant-based repellents. Permethrin is another long-lasting repellent that is intended for application to clothing and gear, but not directly to skin.
- Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be outdoors. In general, the more active of an ingredient (higher concentration) a repellent contains, the longer it will protect against mosquito bites. For example, the more DEET a repellent contains, the longer the time it can protect you from mosquito bites, with protection times ranging from one hour (4.75 percent DEET) to five hours (23.8 percent DEET). Studies suggest that concentrations of DEET above approximately 50 percent do not offer a marked increase in protection time against mosquitoes; DEET efficacy tends to plateau at a concentration of approximately 50 percent.
To avoid reaction to DEET or other ingredients in insect repellents, read and follow the directions on all insect repellents before use. Also, remember the following when applying insect repellent:
- Spray insect repellent (permethrin) on the outside of clothing, as it is possible for mosquitoes to bite through thin clothing.
- Do NOT spray insect repellent on skin that is under clothing.
- Do NOT apply insect repellent to skin that is already irritated, or to cuts/lacerations.
- Do NOT spray aerosol or pump products in enclosed areas.
- Do NOT spray a pump or aerosol product directly on the face. First spray it on hands and then carefully spread it on the face.
- Do not allow insect repellent to come into contact with the eyes or mouth.
- After returning indoors and before eating, use soap and water to wash skin that has been treated with insect repellent. Reapply repellent when returning outdoors or after eating.
Thanks for reading!