DEET Repellent


DEET-the chemical N,N-diethly-m-toluamide-is an insect repellent that can reduce the risk of mosquito bites but must be used with caution. Be aware of the possible adverse health effects when making decisions about DEET.

Products containing DEET have been widely used as repellents for many years, but these products have occasionally been associated with some health problems. In general, reported adverse effects are limited to mild skin reactions and eye irritation. However, there have been some reports of serious nervous system problems in children ranging from slurred speech and confusion to seizures and coma.

Frequent application or saturation is not necessary. In fact, use as little as necessary for your situation. In addition, you should use the following precautions when using repellents containing DEET:

  • Store out of the reach of children and carefully read all instructions on the label before applying.
  • Do NOT allow young children to apply DEET themselves.
  • Do NOT apply DEET directly to children. Apply it to your own hands and then put it on the child's clothing.
  • Use insect repellents with no more than 30% DEET. Use 10% or less DEET for children up to five years of age. Infants should NOT have DEET-containing repellents applied.
  • Avoid prolonged and excessive use of DEET. Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin or clothing. Do not treat unexposed skin. Frequent reapplication or saturation is unnecessary for effectiveness.
  • Particularly with children, try to reduce the use of repellents by dressing children in long sleeves and long pants when possible and applying repellent to clothing instead of skin.
  • Do NOT apply repellent in enclosed areas.
  • DEET can be applied to clothing, but may damage some synthetic fabric and plastics. Launder treated clothing.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
  • Do NOT apply to eyes, nose, or mouth and do not apply to hands of small children because this may result in accidental eye contact or ingestion.
  • If you believe you or a child is having an adverse reaction to a repellent containing DEET, wash the treated area immediately and call your health care provider or local poison control center.