How to use Insect Repellent Safely

We've been selling insect repellent for years and Mosquitioes, midges, tsetse and sandfly hate us. We make them hungry for blood. In case you didn't read the small print on that bottle of insect repellent, here is a guide to the Do's and Don'ts of how to use your repellent safely and get the best protection from biting insects. Follow these simple instructions and you will be well on the way to a safe, bite free holiday and travel.

You've bought an insect repellent and now you want to be safe from insect bites. We've put together this guide, all the instructions that makers often don't include with the bottle but will help you use insect repellent effectively and get the best protection from biting insects.

 The Do's of using Insect Repellent

  • 1. Do use a repellent as soon as insects show an interest in you and start to land. 
  • 2. Do apply repellent evenly over all exposed skin. Try to avoid leaving untreated areas because as the repellent effectiveness wears off, these will be the first places insects will land to feed.
  • 3. Applying sun cream and insect repellent? Apply the sun cream first and the insect repellent on top, otherwise the repellent won't work properly.
  • 4. The most effective way to apply an insect repellent is to spray or apply the repellent onto your fingers and then spread it over your skin by rubbing. With liquid insect repellents a thin film, just enough to moisten the skin but not to wet it, is best.
  • 5. Do re-apply repellent when insects start to land on you again. How long a repellent lasts will vary depending on the repellent, the particular conditions and you. It may need to be be re-applied after anything from 30 minutes to 12 hours.
  • 6. Do wash your hands thoroughly after applying insect repellent. Most repellents will make your eyes, lips and other sensitive skin sting if it comes in contact with them. 
  • 7. Adults should apply repellent for younger children as they are more likely to put their repellenty fingers into mouth or eyes, or miss bits.
  • 8. Choose a child safe repellent for children under 3 years of age. 
    Choose a repellent for young children
  • 9. Wash repellent treated skin when the protection isn't needed any longer.
  • 10. Use a mosquito net or insect killer for night time protection rather than trying to use a repellent 24 hours a day. 
    Buy a mosquito net
  • 11. Follow the particular instructions given for the repellent you are using.

 The Don'ts of using Insect Repellent

  • 1. Don't get repellent in your eyes or on your lips or other sensitive skin - it will sting, a lot. 
  • 2. Don't apply repellent to skin that will be protected by clothing - it's not needed, wastes repellent and, if your using a DEET based repellent, may damage your clothing. DEET is also absorbed through the skin, so really, the less skin the better.
  • 3. Don't put on too much repellent: a) it will get rubbed off and be wasted, b) more likely to find it's way onto plastics or clothing where it can mark - or worse! (see below)
  • 4. Don't get DEET repellents on synthetic clothing and plastic possessions such as sunglasses and phone, it's likely to dissolve them.
  • 5. Don't spray repellent directly on to your face.
  • 6. Don't apply repellent to cuts, damaged or inflamed skin.
  • 7. Don't buy the highest concentration DEET repellent unless you really do need it. High concentrations of DEET do not provide better protection, they may provide longer (between applications) protection. Also high concentration DEET repellents are stickier, smellier, more difficult to spread, more toxic and dissolve clothes and plastics even quicker. 
  • 8. Don't, not use a repellent because you are worried about the side effects. The health risk from bites far exceeds the danger from any of the approved repellents listed here.
  • 9. Don't rely on one type of repellent. Bugs can develop a tolerance to repellent. If you're going to a high risk area take at least 2 repellents with different active ingredients ie.DEET, Picaridin (Saltadin, KBR 3023), Citriodiol (PMD Rich Botanic Oil, Oil of lemon eucalyptus), IR3535.
    Find out more
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