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Image of man spraying mosquito repellent on himself with text that says "Allergic to DEET? This is how to keep mozzies away"

Allergic to DEET? This is how you can keep the mozzies away

Are you allergic to DEET, but still want to keep the mozzies at bay? Thankfully, there are plenty of alternative options available in Australia to protect yourself from the pesky blood suckers and keep yourself safe from mosquito-borne diseases. In this article, we'll be discussing alternatives for people with a DEET allergy or sensitivity.

What is DEET and why does it cause reactions?

DEET is a chemical compound that has been used in insect repellents since the 1950s. Scientists aren't 100% sure how DEET works but there are two main theories: It works by blocking receptors that mosquitoes use to detect humans, making it more difficult for them to find and bite us, or the mosquitoes simply don't like the smell. DEET is a really strong chemical and unfortunately it wasn't developed with skin sensitivities in mind. Lots of people with sensitive skin find that it can be quite irritating and we've been hearing from a growing number of people who have had to stop using their normal mosquito repellent after they suddenly developed a DEET allergy. If you have a DEET allergy or sensitivity, it is really important to find an alternative insect repellent that agrees with your skin and keeps you safe from mosquitoes.

Can you use picaridin if you have a DEET allergy?

One such alternative is picaridin. Picaridin is another synthetic compound that has been used as an insect repellent since the 1990s. It's similar to DEET in that it works by repelling mosquitoes, not killing them. However, it's considered to be less toxic and less likely to cause skin irritation than DEET. Picaridin is widely available in Australia and is a suitable alternative for those with a DEET allergy, however, most picaridin formulations contain high levels of alcohol which can be drying and irritating, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Can you use OLE if you have a DEET allergy?

Another alternative to DEET is OLE, which stands for Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. OLE is an insect repellent ingredient that is derived from the leaves of the lemon eucalyptus tree. The oil is extracted and then undergoes an industrial process to modify the oil and increase the amount of a compound that repels mosquitoes. It works by masking the scents that attract mosquitoes to humans. Again, most OLE insect repellents in Australia are high in alcohol which can be drying and irritating for skin sensitivities. It's important to note that OLE is not recommended for use on children under three years old.

Can you use natural insect repellents if you have a DEET allergy?

For those who prefer natural, botanical-based insect repellents, there are several options available. Natural insect repellents typically use essential oils, such as citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, cedarwood and lavender, to repel mosquitoes. They are typically considered safe for use on the skin and are a good option for those who are looking for a more natural alternative to chemical-based repellents. However, it's important to ensure that any natural insect repellent you use has been clinically proven and APVMA approved to ensure its safety and effectiveness as there are several natural products that claim to repel mosquitoes but have not been clinically tested. Additionally, it's important to recognise that just because something is natural, it does not mean it will be gentler on your skin.

If you have a history of skin sensitivities, carefully consider the products you choose. Citronella is a fantastic active ingredient in mosquito repellents and many people with DEET allergies can use it with no issues, however, if you have sensitive skin, this is one ingredient you may wish to avoid. You may also find ingredients like rosemary, cedarwood, mint and thyme also irritate your skin. Good Riddance Sensitive Insect Repellent could be a great alternative as it is a lavender based, hydrating cream that was specifically developed for sensitive skin and babies.

Are mosquito repellent stickers or wrist bands a good alternative for people allergic to DEET?

There are several stickers and wrist bands infused with citronella and other essential oils that claim to protect you from mosquitoes. Unfortunately these types of products are unlikely to protect you as effectively as a correctly applied mosquito repellent. Insect repellents need to be applied to all of your exposed skin to work effectively. Even DEET based products will not protect you effectively if you miss a patch of skin! Applying a single sticker or wrist band is unlikely to give you adequate protection, especially if there are lots of mozzies around.

How to protect yourself from mosquitoes if you're allergic to repellent

If your skin doesn't agree with insect repellent, there are other measures you can take to protect yourself from mosquitoes. Mosquito coils and citronella candles can help reduce the number of mosquitoes in your immediate space. There are also electric or gas powered devices that emit pesticides that repel or even kill mosquitoes. It is important to note, however, that these devices will never be as effective as personal insect repellent sprays or creams. Additionally, they may not be a good alternative if you, or someone in your household has asthma.

Wearing long sleeves and pants when going outside and avoiding going outside when mosquitoes are most active, at dawn and dusk, can help to reduce your risk of mosquito bites but this should be used in conjunction with a repellent, if possible.

If you're looking for a natural, botanical-based mosquito repellent that doesn't contain DEET, consider trying the Good Riddance Insect Repellent cream range. Made with a blend of natural essential oils, including citronella and Australian lemon scented tea tree or lavender essential oils, our creams carry APVMA registration and have been clinically proven against mosquitoes, midges and sandflies. Both of our repellents are free from DEET and other harmful chemicals, making it a great choice for those with a DEET allergy. Shop online today.