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Bug Spray: Go DEET-Free!

Now that summer is almost here, mosquitos are going crazy. You are probably looking for a good insect repellent to discourage those buggers from biting.

Many bug sprays these days are made with a powerful chemical called DEET. Sure bugs hate it, but did you know that it's toxic to humans? When you apply it to your skin, it gets absorbed and eventually enters the bloodstream. It pumps through your nervous system and DEET has been proven to kill brain cells, causing neurological damage. With heavy exposure to DEET, humans may experience memory loss, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and shortness of breath. I'll take a mosquito bite over that any day.

I'm not saying you should forgo the insect repellent altogether - just look for DEET-free alternatives. Picaridin is DEET-free, and found in some newer insect repellents and ones geared toward children and families like OFF!® FamilyCare. However, it is recommended that Picaridin be applied to children no more than twice daily, which makes me wonder if I want to apply it even once!

There are also natural alternatives such as Natrapel Plus ($6.99 for 4 oz pump spray). It works for up to 4 hours, which is great, but it's made with citronella, so you may not like the smell. Crocodile Natural Insect Repellent ($8.50 for 2 oz bottle of lotion) contains no DEET or citronella, repels insects for hours, and is made with organically grown herbs, so you may prefer this scent over the Natrapel Plus. Of course, these don't work as well as DEET, but at least they're not harmful to you.

Fit's Tips: Be sure to check your sunscreen - some contain DEET.

If you have success with any other DEET-free insect repellents, please tell me about it in the comments section below.

vangiepm vangiepm 8 years
You may try out the products distributed by The Green Cow company in the Philippines. As you know dengue mosquito is also considered a very deadly mosquito so we try to prevent it from biting especially children. The products uses organic product from neem extracts, which is a powerful insect repellent. It was invented by a Filipina Scientist. Try Bioneem liquid concentrate as your household insect repellent, Bioneem ointment to treat bites and Bioneem lotion to protect you from bites or the B-gone oil-based insect repellent. You can visit to see the products.
madison63 madison63 10 years
i am terribly allergic to mosquito bites (i get these huge welts that swell wherever i get bit) but i've found that no matter which brand of bug repellant i used, the ones without DEET did not protect me. even with OFF! i still got bit and that has DEET in it. i've also tried taking vitamin B5 and B12 supplements 2 weeks in advance of going camping but nothing works! does anyone have any other suggestions?
the-clam the-clam 10 years
I had to use deet on a trip to South America. Deet is horrible but better than malaria. The mosquitoes there could bite through denim.
Butrfly4404 Butrfly4404 10 years
hey bluejeanie! I eat a LOT of garlic. What am I doing wrong? Do I have to eat them whole? Not sauteed in olive oil? I checked and that Bullfrog with SPF 30 is DEET FREE...NOW I remember that's why I picked this one, cuz it was deet free with sunscreen. Its active ingredient is something crazy still, though. I'm not even going to try to type it. So that's probably not too good, either, eh?
woopugsooie woopugsooie 10 years
try rubbing a dryer sheet on your skin
Fitness Fitness 10 years
You're right! DEET is the short name for N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. Sneaky companies!!
chatoyante chatoyante 10 years
My friend bought some mosquito repellent overseas and the active ingredient is "N N diethyl benzamide". We were marveling that it didn't have DEET in it, until we googled the ingredient and yep! Same thing under a different name (also called N N diethyl toluamide).
bluejeanie bluejeanie 10 years
i've found that eating garlic cloves keeps the skeeters away.
Butrfly4404 Butrfly4404 10 years
I bought, I think it's called, Bullfrog. It's sunscreen and bug repellent...I don't know if it's deet-free or not..I'll have to check when I go home. I hate buying both sunscreen AND bug repellent, because there are like 6000 kinds all on the same stand at Wal-Mart. It overloads my brain and I end up just grabbing one to get the heck out of there!
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