What Is The Mosquito Repellent Ingredient Known As DEET? And How Should It Be Applied To Skin?
Many mosquito species found in urban and suburban areas throughout the US transmit disease to humans, and the most commonly transmitted mosquito-borne diseases in the country vary by region. For example, the often deadly disease known as eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is contracted from mosquitoes in the northeastern coastal states, particularly Massachusetts, and during the Zika virus scare, residents of Florida and other Gulf Coast states were at the highest risk of contracting the virus.
Historically, mosquito-borne disease has not posed a significant threat to residents of Arizona, but mosquitoes that carry the west Nile virus recently established a permanent habitat in the state. In fact, during 2019, Arizona saw more West Nile infection cases than any other state in the country, and during 2019, at least 16 individuals in Arizona died from the disease. Now that mosquito-borne disease is a serious threat in Arizona, it is important for residents to take measures to prevent mosquito bites. It has become common knowledge that insect repellents containing the ingredient known as DEET are more effective at preventing mosquito bites than other non-DEET repellent products, but few people know what DEET actually is beyond this often repeated information.
N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, is the active ingredient in many insect repellent products, but contrary to popular belief, DEET does not kill mosquitoes on contact, and it does not necessarily repel mosquitoes either. DEET impairs the sense of smell in mosquitoes, which deprives them of their ability to sense human breath and sweat odors. DEET repellents are likely to repel mosquitoes after they land directly on a patch of skin where repellent has been applied. DEET insect repellents should be applied to clothing and bare skin, and ingesting the chemical must be avoided, so repellent should never be sprayed directly onto the face; instead, DEET should be rubbed into facial skin with fingertips.
Do you use DEET insect repellent during the spring and summer?