General Considerations for Using Repellents Safely
- Always follow the instructions on the product label.
- Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the product label.) Do not use repellents under clothing.
- Never use repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
- Do not apply to eyes or mouth, and apply sparingly around ears. When using sprays, do not spray directly on face - spray on hands first and then apply to face.
- Do not allow children to handle the product. When using on children, apply to your own hands first and then put it on the child. You may not want to apply to children’s hands.
- Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing. Heavy application and saturation are generally unnecessary for effectiveness. If biting insects do not respond to a thin film of repellent, then apply a bit more.
- After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly in a day or on consecutive days. Also, wash treated clothing before wearing it again. (This precaution may vary with different repellents - check the product label.)
- If you or your child get a rash or other bad reaction from an insect repellent, stop using the repellent, wash the repellent off with mild soap and water, and call a local poison control center for further guidance. If you go to a doctor because of the repellent, take the repellent with you to show the doctor.
Repellent For Children
Note that the label for products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus specifies that they should not to be used on children under the age of three years old. Other than those listed above, the EPA does not recommend any additional precautions for using registered repellents on pregnant or lactating women or on children. For additional information regarding the use of repellent on children, please see the CDC’s frequently asked questions about repellent use.
DEET-based repellents applied according to label instructions may be used along with a separate sunscreen. No data is available at this time regarding the use of other active repellent ingredients in combination with a sunscreen.
View additional information on using EPA-registered repellents.