Buzz off, DEET

Bug Spray

Photo from flickr, by Fairfax County

At a campfire last weekend, my legs were prime feeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests. As I did my best to heal my bites, I decided I needed to protect my exposed skin from summer bugs.

For most bug spray brands, like OFF, Ultrathon and Coleman, DEET is the main active ingredient.

Is it safe? According to the EPA, products containing DEET are safe to use, as long as “consumers follow label directions and take proper precautions.” That’s a pretty vague guideline, considering that incorrect use of DEET products has been shown to lead to skin irritation, disorientation, dizziness and, in extreme cases, seizures or death. And according to a new study, DEET might be able to spread into an ecosystem and affect wildlife. Not good!

The quick and easy advice: don’t use very much, apply it outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, and wash it off when you’re done.

Not satisfied? Try a DEET-free bug spray! We’ve heard good things about Bite BlockerBuzz Away and Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent. Or if you’re looking for a homemade remedy, check out these recipes.

Have you tried the alternatives? Or do you swear by DEET? Let us know in the comments below!

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