The most effective insect repellent is DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), which has been in use as an insect repellent since 1957. DEET comes in concentrations ranging from 4% to 100%, and appears to work better up to a concentration of 30%, after which it simply lasts longer. Products containing 10% DEET works for about 2 hours, 24% DEET works for about 5 hours, and over 30% DEET lasts 8 to 12 hours.
The side effects of DEET include hives and skin irritation, although these side effects have generally been reported with chronic overdosing. There are a few rare reports of seizures, most of them related to very high doses of DEET.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that DEET concentrations of up to 30% are considered safe for children over two months of age.
Our recommendations on DEET use:
- Older children can have 20%-30% DEET applied. Younger children and infants should have lower concentrations applied.
- DEET is not approved for under 2 months of age. For children under 1 year of age, you should consider using other protective measures such as netting, long sleeves and pants, and avoiding outdoor activity during high insect activity (e.g. dawn) before using DEET.
- Apply the lowest amount of DEET that will be effective for the amount of time spent outdoors.
- Apply DEET sparingly on exposed skin. Do not use under clothing.
- Do not apply DEET to the hands and mouths of very young children. For older children, apply to face by rubbing product on with adult hands; avoid eyes and mouth.
- Apply DEET no more than once a day and wash skin after use.
- Do not use a combination DEET/sunscreen product as sunscreen needs to be re-applied regularly.
- Do not use DEET over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
- Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
- Bedwetting (Enuresis)
- Bicycle safety
- Car seat / seatbelt safety
- Coxsackievirus and Enterovirus
- Fifth Disease
- Feeding guides
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Head injury
- Indoor Safety Tips
- Insect Repellents
- Iron deficiency
- Jaundice (newborn)
- Medication Doses
- Meningitis /Meningococcal disease
- Mononucleosis (mono)
- Newborn screen
- Poison Ivy Dermatitis
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
- Severe Allergic Reactions
- Strep Throat
- Swimmer's Ear (Otitis Externa)
- Vomiting / Diarrhea