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June 16, 2021  |  Tips & Guides  |  Insect Repellents

Parkview Health: The basics of bug spray

The basics of bug spray

This time of year is perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, fishing and exploring. It’s also the season of bugs. Nicholas Seman, DO, PPG – Family Medicine, provides important details about which bug spray to pick to prevent unwanted bites, how to apply and why it’s so important in the warmer months.

In what situations and/or environments should we apply bug spray?

Bug spray should be applied if you are in an outdoor setting where you may be exposed to a biting insect that has a chance of disease transmission.

Are there certain varieties of bug spray you recommend?

Typically, if you are going to be exposed to a higher concentration of biting insects, then it’s best to use a product containing between 10-35% DEET. Concentrations of DEET higher than this should be reserved for situations in which insect infestation is high, the repellent may be partially washed off, or time outdoors will exceed three to four hours.

If possible, microencapsulated formulations are preferred as these will offer protection for a longer period of time with lower concentrations of active repellant. Alternatively, 20% picaridin is a reasonable alternative for people wishing to avoid the unpleasant characteristics of DEET and are willing to accept a somewhat shorter-acting repellant.

Other repellants have been studied but the findings are inconsistent, which is why the current recommendations are DEET or picaridin. Permethrin applied to clothing has been used as well and is still relatively useful, but resistances are developing. Permethrin-treated clothing and DEET repellent used in combination when in highly concentrated areas of biting insects appears to offer the best protection overall.

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