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Is DEET safe during pregnancy

Is DEET safe during pregnancy?

When you think about mozzies, you probably think more about the annoying itch than you do about the risk of disease! But mosquitoes are a carrier for a number of nasty viruses here in Australia and it’s important to protect yourself, especially during pregnancy. The Australian Department of Health advises that DEET-based repellents, if used according to the directions on the label, are safe. But is DEET safe during pregnancy, especially if you’re needing to apply frequently?

Is DEET safe during pregnancy?

There aren’t a huge number of human studies that measure the safety of DEET during pregnancy. One of the major studies to assess DEET safety during pregnancy looked exclusively at safety of application during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy [1]. This particular study found that when a 20% DEET repellent was used, DEET was detectable in some cord blood samples. The overwhelming conclusion of the study, however, was that provided DEET products are used in accordance with the directions, the risk is relatively low when compared to the risk of some mosquito borne diseases.

The key thing to note here is that the products need to be used in accordance with the directions (which can be easy to exceed if you’re a mozzie magnet)! The products used were also only 20% DEET and there are far more concentrated products available on the market here in Australia. So, if you are not looking for an alternative to DEET-based products, make sure you’re not applying more product, more frequently and at higher concentrations than recommended!

What if you’re needing to apply a repellent more frequently than the label recommends during pregnancy?

The prolonged use of DEET repellents has been associated with seizures, psychosis and severe skin irritation [2]. So for mozzie magnet mums-to-be who are reapplying a repellent multiple times a day, it is completely understandable that they would want to try and minimise their (and bub’s) risk. In fact, a 2017 survey of pregnant Americans during the Zika virus outbreak found that almost half were concerned about the safety of using insect repellents during pregnancy [3].

Those stats just make us sad. Even during an outbreak of a virus that can have very real implications for unborn babies, people are scared of the insect repellent options available to them! This is part of the reason why we were determined to make a safe, natural repellent that actually works.

Alternatives to DEET that are safe during pregnancy

While it’s really easy to equate natural products with being safe, that’s not always true, especially during pregnancy. There are plenty of natural products that are perfectly safe but as always, it’s important to do your research and make sure that the products are being formulated safely, by someone who knows what they’re doing. And in the case of an insect repellent, that the product works effectively. 

Many natural insect repellents, including the Good Riddance Tropical Insect Repellent, use citronella as an active ingredient. There really isn’t a lot of research around the safety of citronella essential oil during pregnancy so it’s best to avoid, just to be safe, given the number of essential oils that should be avoided during pregnancy.

If you’re looking for a product that doesn’t contain DEET or citronella, it’s really important that you choose a repellent that has been clinically tested and registered with the APVMA (or your local equivalent). There are tonnes of homemade remedies that are pretty questionable (baby oil and Dettol comes to mind!) and very few products that are actually classified as an insect repellent.

Good Riddance Sensitive is one DEET-free, natural insect repellent available that is safe to use during pregnancy (and is also safe for bub after 3 months!). All of the ingredients, including the essential oil actives are all considered safe to use during pregnancy and the cream itself is a beautiful, nourishing moisturiser which helps to increase how long the product remains effective for. Of course, every pregnancy journey is different so always consult your physician or GP if you’re unsure and make sure to patch test any new products before using them.

Good Riddance Sensitive is backed by a money-back guarantee - if you don’t love it for any reason, we’ll refund you the full cost of the product. Shop our sensitive range today.