When you are choosing a repellent, use a mosquito repellent that has been proven to be effective against West Nile Virus-carrying mosquitoes. DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (also called p-menthane-3,8-diol or PMD) and IR3535 are good choices.

Find the repellent that is right for you.


  • Apply repellent only to exposed skin, never under clothing.
  • Never use repellent over cuts or irritated skin.
  • Do not apply to eyes and mouth.
  • Never let children handle repellents.
  • Do not spray in an enclosed area.
  • When you come back inside, wash the repellent off thoroughly.
  • Always follow directions listed on the label.
  • Don't over-apply repellent. Use only what you need and what is recommended on the label.\
  • Do not use a repellent that is combined with sunscreen. The sunscreen will need to be reapplied more often than the repellent so you might end up using too much repellent

When using repellent on a child:

  • Always read the label to determine if it is safe for children.
  • Follow application directions for children.
  • Avoid applying to the child's eyes, mouth, and palms of hands. If a child is still sucking a thumb or mouthing fingers often, don't apply repellent to the child's hands at all.
  • Always have an adult apply repellent to a child.
  • Keep repellents out of reach of children.
  • Only apply to exposed skin.
  • Do not over-apply. Use only what your child needs.
  • Do not use a repellent that is combined with sunscreen into one product. However, using separate repellent and separate sunscreen products at the same time is an acceptable practice.
  • If a child develops a rash or other apparent allergic reaction from an insect repellent, stop using the repellent, wash it off with mild soap and water, and call a local poison control center for further guidance.

Don't use:

  • A repellent with 30% or higher concentration of DEET on children.
  • Repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under three. Oil of lemon eucalyptus has not been significantly tested on children of that age.
  • Any repellent on infants younger than two months.

DEET expiration

DEET is very stable and is effective indefinitely as a repellent. For this reason, the federal government doesn't require an expiration date on product labels. But manufacturers of repellents say that the feel, smell and appearance of their products may change after about three years. This does not reduce the DEET's ability to repel mosquitoes and ticks but may make the product less appealing to users. If you're not sure about your particular product, contact the manufacturer.