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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.

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