24 hour Protection

24 Hours of Protection

The Risks

With humans we are, predominantly, looking at the safest and most effective forms of repellent against mosquitos and ticks. Both mosquitos, ticks, and other arthropods, are very much part of a normal summer life but, in certain parts of the world, they do have the potential for transferring potentially lethal diseases to humans.


  • Zika
  • West Nile Virus
  • Malaria
  • Dengue Fever


  • Lyme Disease
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

In view of the foregoing, it is important that the best possible repellent is applied.


When dealing with medicines, pesticides etc it is normal to look to the USA for the tightest definitions of what you can or cannot do and what chemical constituents are permissible/registered or banned.

It is difficult to use scare tactics to move people away from the products they have been using to for years if there are no real contraindications to suggest the product should be banned.

DEET (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is the active ingredient in many repellent products. It is widely used to repel biting pests such as mosquitos and ticks. Every year, an estimated one-third of the U.S. population use DEET to protect themselves from mosquito and tick borne illnesses.

This is where the difficulty starts!

Is there a need for change?

The following paragraphs summarise the attitudes of the EU and the USA towards the treatment of the inherent risks of mosquitos and ticks. Unusually, there are no concrete recommendations or regulations made about repelling them in an effective and safe way.

DEET is designed for direct application to people’s skin to repel insects. Rather than killing them, DEET works by making it hard for these biting bugs to smell us. DEET was registered for use by the general public in 1957.

The EU rules seem to be the strictest globally, with other counties having recommendations regarding the strength of DEET used and the effectiveness of other alternative products. In the USA the human health risk assessment concluded that “there are no risks of concern because no toxic effects have been identified when used as an insect repellent applied to the skin , and there is no dietary or occupational exposure for DEET.” (Source: US Environmental Protection Agency – EPA)

There are, however, a number of warnings that have to be considered when using DEET. These are not health related but protection related:

  1. It should only be used outside and the body should be wiped clean of any remaining DEET when going indoors.
  2. It should not be applied under clothes, although it can be applied to the outside of clothes to repel insects.
  3. It must not be swallowed.
  4. Each different strength of dilution protects for a different length of time. Depending on the environment one is in, it is necessary to ensure that one has applied the necessary dose.

In other words:
  1. DEET needs to be reapplied after swimming
  2. DEET should not be used indoors
  3. DEET cannot be used under nightwear
  4. DEET cannot give 24-hour protection

The Alternatives

There are a small number of products which do not use DEET as their primary repellent ingredient. Approved examples include:

Picaridin is a chemical found in plants that produce black pepper. It also works by blocking our scent, but does not kill the insects, and is effective against mosquitos, biting flies, ticks, fleas and chiggers. Picaridin’s main side effect is skin irritation; it is also toxic to fish.

IR3535 is active against mosquitos, deer ticks, body lice and biting flies. It’s been used in Europe for more than 20 years with no serious adverse effects seen. Oil of eucalyptus, or p-Menthane-3,8-diol, is a pesticide made from the lemon eucalyptus plant, targeting mosquitos, biting flies and gnats. The mosquitos are repelled by the smell. Eye irritation is the most common side effect.

Citronella candles are commonly used but are minimally better than plain candles, and Canadian volunteers “protected” by the citronella were still bitten more than once per minute.

Similarly, wristbands and ultrasound devices have been proven ineffective.

The BalancyLife MagiTag is the simplest, safest and most effective repellent available.

The emphasis in these comments has been on DEET and only passing reference has been made to the other products. This is because DEET is the best-known product and the one around which the uncertainty about effectiveness and safety revolves.

For more information about the USA and EU views on the treatment of the inherent risks of mosquitos and ticks, click on the button below:

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24 hours of Protection

The USA and EU Views

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