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DEET vs Picaridin – new mosquito repellent

August 10th, 2010
Picaridin is a new but effective repellent, that some persons find more pleasant to use than DEET. It does not eat your plastic for a start!
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‘DEET’ is the gold standard effective mosquito repellent to apply on your skin. Repellents work by blocking the receptors on the mosquitoes antennae, so the mosquitoes cannot find you – a bit like wearing Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. 30% DEET gives protection for 4 hours. Higher concentrations protect for longer, but sadly more is not always better; above 50% DEET, the duration of protection plateaus. ‘Sticky’ products with higher DEET (e.g. Bushman 80%) may be useful in conditions where persons are sweating profusely e.g. Kokoda track. DEET has been on the market for 45 years and side effects do not occur if used according to the directions.
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DEET products on the skin have been found to be more effective than coils, citronella candles, sonic repellers, UV light lures, and ‘mozzie plants’. E.g. Citronella protects for less than 20 minutes and wristbands average 12- 18 seconds (swapping to a fresh wrist band every 12 seconds is likely to somewhat hinder ones enjoyment of the destination).
The downside of DEET is that, if it leaks, it can damage plastics, synthetic fabrics, leather and painted or varnished materials. This is a bit of a problem for travellers as we tend to carry things like eye glasses, cameras, phones etc, and its not easy to get to shops to replace our precious toys – even if we had spare money to buy them, and trusted the guarantee etc. DEET has no effect on cotton, wool or nylon or skin.
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Picaridin is nearly odorless (mild citrus scent when first applied) and your cameras, phones and other toys will rest easy in your pockets as it is safe for plastics and synthetic materials. The Australian product OFF! Skintastic has 92.8g/L picaridin provides protection for about 3 hours. Higher concentrations will generally protect for longer.

6 Responses to “DEET vs Picaridin – new mosquito repellent”

  1. k nemeth says:

    please inform if protects against ticks fleas flies lice etc

  2. Michael says:

    Does the picaridin in repellants such as OFF has used by date? Even if manufacturer did not provide on the bottle or label

    • Dr Deb says:

      That is such a good question – there should be a use by date – if not you would need to contact the manufacturer.
      From http://www.deetonline.org/faqs/
      DEET is very stable and is effective indefinitely as a repellent. For this reason, the federal government doesn’t require an expiration date on product labels. But manufacturers of repellents say that the feel, smell and appearance of their products may change after about three years. This does not reduce the DEET’s ability to repel mosquitoes and ticks but may make the product less appealing to users. If you’re not sure about your particular product, contact the manufacturer.

  3. Michael says:

    How do you protect your face from mosquito bites? Can we apply repellant on the face? I am sure thats not advisable.

    • Dr Deb says:

      HI – its ok to put repellent on the face but be very careful to avoid the eyes. Dont spray repellent toward the face : best to apply repellent to the hands and then rub your hands on your face avoiding sensitive areas such as lips and eyes and nose membrane. Also don’t put too much on the forehead or it may run down into the eyes.

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