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Prone to mosquito bites? What to know about DEET

Posted by on July 25th, 2017


#20514 by James Gathany

People with higher metabolisms and prone to sweating in environments where mosquitoes thrive may find themselves disproportionately itchy to those who aren’t. Thanks to the U.S. Army, who developed it for soldiers in 1946, DEET has been a tried-and-true insect repellant for millions of Americans over half a century.

Scientists aren’t quite clear about how it works with all insects, but in many cases it essentially renders users “invisible” to insects. It’s believed by some that insects dislike the smell while others believe it disrupts their receptors.

Regardless of how it functions though, its effectiveness has been proven.

Unsure of which percentage to get? Well, the percentage of DEET in any given product doesn’t make it more effective–it just lengthens the amount of time needed before reapplication. However, concentrations over 50% show no added protection.

What is important however is that all exposed skin is covered. DEET does not create a shield with partial application–insects will find unapplied areas of your skin. Also, while there are no age restrictions or known harms with directed use, there have been skin rashes in rare cases. Directions often warn that it should not be used on top of wounds or broken skin either.

Read more about DEET on the CDC’s factsheet: “Guidelines for DEET Insect Repellent Use”

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