With summer around the corner and increasing concern about the spread of the Zika virus in the United States, dermatologists might notice more patients inquiring about how to safely repel mosquitos and their disease-inducing bites.
Also see: Zika quick facts
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging people to take steps to prevent mosquito bites with such things as ample clothing and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)- registered insect repellents. The repellents, according to CDC, should have one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol.
We asked dermatology and pediatric experts to share their best patient recommendations for insect repellents. This is what they had to say:
Since it was developed in 1957, DEET has demonstrated that it is the best insect repellent humans have ever invented, says Tucson, Ariz., dermatologist Ronald G. Wheeland, M.D.
“In a 20% to 50% concentration, it is effective and safe, according to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. In addition, use of long sleeves and pants will help reduce the incidence of mosquito bites,” Dr. Wheeland says.
Tina S. Alster, M.D., director, Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, Washington, D.C., says that according to Consumer Reports, the most effective products against the Aedes species mosquito, which spreads the virus, were Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellant (Sawyer) and Natrapel 8 Hour (Tender Corporation), each containing 20% picaridin, and Off! Deep Woods VIII (S.C. Johnson and Son), which contains 25% DEET.
“These products provided protection for about eight hours and were as effective as products with higher chemical concentrations,” Dr. Alster says.