An article published by the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia, The Hazards of Deet, contends DEET is not a safe choice:
“DEET is a registered pesticide. DEET is short for N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (also known as N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide). It is a member of the toluene chemical family. Toluene is an organic solvent used in rubber and plastic cements and paint removers. DEET is absorbed through the skin and passes into the blood. The Medical Sciences Bulletin, published by Pharmaceutical Information Associates Ltd. reports, ‘Up to 56% of DEET applied topically penetrates intact human skin and 17% is absorbed into the bloodstream.’ Blood concentrations of about 3 mg per litre have been reported several hours after DEET repellent was applied to skin in the prescribed fashion. DEET is also absorbed by the gut” The Hazards of Deet.
Natural alternatives must be applied more frequently but may offer less harmful effects. You can make your own by mixing 10-25 drops of essential oil with 2 tablespoons of carrier oil. Carrier oils include jojoba, almond, and coconut. Castor oil has repellent capabilities and can be used as well.
Essential oils suggested in the article include:
• Lemon Eucalyptus
• Tea Tree
The Centers for Disease Control recommends DEET and Picaridin (which is determined to be among the least toxic chemicals, as documented by the organization Beyond Pesticides), but also validates the effectiveness of natural options. According to the CDC’s website:
“Oil of lemon eucalyptus [active ingredient: 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 in the US it provided protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET” Insect Repellent Use and Safety.
However, please note that essential oils may trigger reactions in those who are chemically sensitive, due to their natural volatile compounds and/or possible solvents used to extract them.
A couple of other ideas discussed in the article were:
• Use a fan. Mosquitoes don’t like wind.
• Plant mosquito repelling plants like lemon balm, catnip, basil, lemon geranium.
• Use less attracting yellow bulbs for outdoor lighting at night.
• Wear long sleeves and pants.
A good way to treat an insect bite? Two possible options include:
• Baking soda
• Bentonite clay
Make a paste with filtered water and allow to dry.
Side Note: Some people have good results with taking garlic or apple cider vinegar (ACV) to repel mosquitoes or using ACV diluted with water as a spray. Others have used the golden colored mouthwash (Listerine) as a spray on patios and furniture.
Disclaimer: Always use a test area with sprays and check with your doctor before taking any supplements or being exposed to any new products. No information on this website should be construed as medical or legal advice.