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Insect Repellent

Insect repellents can help keep mosquitoes and ticks from biting, but if they’re used incorrectly, they can be dangerous.

DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) is an ingredient in most insect repellents. Products containing DEET come in lotion, liquid and spray. Concentrations of DEET in these products can vary widely.

Sometimes people who use insect repellent with DEET get skin reactions including rashes, irritation and redness.

Tips for safely using insect repellent:

  • Read labels carefully and follow the directions.
  • Use insect repellent sparingly.
  • Do not use insect repellent with DEET on children under the age of 2 months.
  • When using repellent on a child, apply to your own hands and then rub the repellent on your child.
  • Only reapply if the repellent is no longer working.
  • Wash your hands after applying insect repellent.
  • Don’t apply insect repellent under clothing or to broken or irritated skin.
  • Discontinue use if the repellent causes irritation.
  • Don’t apply insect repellent to children's hands.
  • Do not use insect repellent near food.
  • Keep insect repellent locked up, out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Do not use human insect repellent on pets.

24-hour Poison Control Center hotline: 1-800-222-1222

What to do in case of accidental poisoning or reaction

If skin becomes red or irritated, stop using the repellent and wash the skin with soap and water. If this doesn’t help, call The University of Kansas Hospital Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

If a child swallows insect repellent, rinse out their mouth, have them drink water and contact the Poison Control Center immediately.


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