Although the summer is winding down, it still can be hot and humid for the next few months in many states! And with the heat and humidity come bugs. With the recent Zika virus scare added to the existing fears about West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease, more people are using insect repellants. I am very concerned with my family’s exposure to potential bug bites, but I am also equally concerned with the potentially harsh chemicals in bug repellant that may be absorbed through the skin.
The EWG has ranked the effectiveness of repellants to prevent the Zika virus:
DEET (20 – 30 percent concentration)
Picardin (20 percent concentration)
IR 3535 (20 percent concentration)
Consumer Reports recently tested some natural repellants and found that only one of six of the natural repellants tested worked. The product contained lemon eucalyptus oil, but there are conflicting studies as to whether this natural plant oil is truly effective. Sometimes it actually depends on the individual. And I would be one of those that gets bitten when no one else does!!!
I have always been under the impression that DEET was to avoided because of its toxicity, but according to the EWG, its safety profile is better than most people think. The CDC says that DEET and Picardin are safe, provided that you use them properly. The bottom line, if using one of the above repellants, carefully follow instructions, especially when applying to children.
Another important consideration is your location. Are you in an area where Zica and/or West Nile Virus has been present? Are you in an area known for deer ticks and Lyme disease? If so, apply the insect repellant to protect against potential disease. If not, you might try a product with lemon eucalyptus oil and see how it goes.
Any time you use an insect repellant, it is important to wash it off at the end of the day. There is no need to keep chemicals on the skin when not necessary. You should also wash any clothes that were in contact with the insect repellant separately.
I am not happy that there isn’t a clear cut answer on which way to go with insect repellant. I never use DEET, but when I was in BALI filming for RHOC, there were so many bugs biting on our legs, I put on the DEET. It was worth the possible skin absorption for a few days to make sure I wasn’t bitten by anything harmful! I did the same thing when we were in Tahiti! I just keep telling myself its all about balance!!!
If you have any experience or information about safe insect repellants, please let me know!!!