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Protection: DEET FAQs

Why should I wear repellent with DEET?

It is the most effective insect repellent available. It helps people reduce their exposure to mosquito bites that carry viruses such as West Nile virus.

How does mosquito repellent work?

Mosquitoes are attracted to people by skin odor and carbon dioxide from breath. DEET does not actually kill mosquitoes, it just makes them unable to detect us.

Is DEET safe?

Yes, products containing DEET are safe when used according to product directions (see DEET Toxicity PDF)

What time of day should I wear insect repellents?

Many of the mosquitoes that carry WNV are likely to bite dusk through dawn. However, the safest decision is to apply repellent whenever you are outdoors.

Can I use DEET and sunscreen at the same time?

Yes. Instructions for safe use of DEET and sunscreen are different. DEET does not need to be reapplied as often as sunscreen. Follow the instructions on the package for proper application of each product. Apply sunscreen first, followed by a repellent containing DEET. The Center for Disease Control does not recommend using products that combine DEET and sunscreen.

Are non-DEET repellents effective?

Some non-DEET repellent products that are intended to be applied directly to skin also provide some protection from mosquito bites. However, studies have suggested that other products do not offer the same level of protection, or that protection does not last as long as products containing DEET.

Should pregnant or nursing women use DEET?

Women who are pregnant or nursing can use DEET (see DEET Toxicity PDF). Be sure to follow the directions carefully.