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DEET free insect repellent Australia

DEET Insect Repellent: How Safe is it for Your Health?

, by AussiePharmaDirect, 6 min reading time

While DEET insect repellent is generally considered safe when used as directed, there have been some concerns raised about its potential harmful effects on health. Read on to know how you can stay safe with a more natural alternative.

Australians have a love affair with the great outdoors, and it's not hard to see why. The country's vast, rugged landscape is home to some of the world's most breathtaking natural wonders, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Australian Outback. Additionally, Australia is known for its warm climate, with long, sunny days and mild winters, which makes it ideal for outdoor activities year-round.

This plays a big role in why many Australians look to insect repellents to protect them in the great outdoors. Whether it’s insect repellent for camping, outdoor activities, or even just lounging in the backyard, it's becoming increasingly common to find it on the shelves of department stores - especially DEET-based repellents.

However, what a lot of people still don't realise is that DEET can have harmful effects on their health. Some may turn to DEET-free insect repellent but others may still opt for insect repellent with DEET. 

Now, you will likely be wanting to apply insect repellent to keep biting insects away when you’re out there, but it’s worth taking some time to learn a bit about what you are applying to your skin before you use it.


What is DEET insect repellent?

DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) is a common active ingredient found in many insect repellents, and it’s a chemical that has been in use since it was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 for use by military personnel in insect-infested areas.

It is effective against a wide range of biting insects, including mosquitoes, ticks, and flies. DEET is available in a variety of concentrations, ranging from 5% to 100%, with higher concentrations offering longer protection. While DEET is considered safe for most people when used as directed, unfortunately, some people have an adverse reaction to DEET, especially if they leave it on their skin for extended periods of time.


Common skin reactions to DEET

DEET is a powerful insect repellent that can help protect against mosquito bites and other biting insects. However, it can also cause a range of skin reactions, particularly if it's applied frequently or in high concentrations. Redness is a common side effect of DEET use and can occur shortly after application. It may be accompanied by a rash or small raised bumps on the skin, which can be itchy or irritated. In some cases, DEET can cause more severe reactions such as swelling or blistering of the skin, as well as a tingling or numbness sensation. 

While rare, allergic reactions to DEET can also occur, which may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.


How does DEET insect repellent work?

DEET insect repellent works by interfering with the insect's ability to detect the user's scent. When applied to the skin, DEET emits a vapour that blocks the insect's olfactory receptors, making it harder for them to locate and land on the user.

This is because DEET masks the lactic acid and carbon dioxide that humans give off, which are the main attractants for many biting insects such as mosquitoes.

The effectiveness of DEET, however, depends on several factors, including the concentration of the product, the frequency of application, and the species of the insect being repelled.


Is DEET in insect repellent harmful?

The potential harm from DEET comes from prolonged or excessive use, particularly when used in high concentrations. DEET is a powerful chemical that can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals. In rare cases, it has been linked to more serious health issues such as seizures, particularly when used in very high concentrations or in combination with other chemicals. 

Prolonged exposure to DEET has also been linked to neurological problems, although this is more commonly seen in individuals who have been exposed to very high levels of the chemical for extended periods of time, such as workers who apply DEET-containing products regularly as part of their job, especially those who work outdoors most of the time.


Is DEET safe for children?

Prolonged use of DEET in children can potentially be harmful because children's skin is more sensitive than adults and they may be more susceptible to the chemical's effects.

While DEET can be safe for children when used properly and according to the product label instructions, it's important to take some precautions when using DEET on children, particularly infants and young children. 

It is advisable that DEET should not be used on infants under two months of age. For older children, it's important to use a product with a lower concentration of DEET. This means applying no more than one time per day, and to avoid applying the product to children's hands or faces to prevent accidental ingestion or eye contact which will cause the same unwanted effects as for adults.


Effective natural alternative to DEET

Taking these factors into consideration, you may wonder what is the best insect repellent without DEET that is available out there. If you are concerned about using DEET-based insect repellents and would prefer to use the best natural insect repellent in Australia, then you can try Australian-made and owned Good Riddance Tropical Insect Repellent or Good Riddance Sensitive Insect Repellent.

Approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) as scientifically assessed as a safe and effective DEET-free mosquito repellent, it provides a family-friendly alternative to potentially harmful DEET products. And the Sensitive formula is the only natural insect repellent in Australia safe for babies over three months. So, if you’ve been looking for a natural alternative to mosquito repellent for babies, this is the one for you! It is also safe for use during pregnancy, and for those with sensitive skin or eczema. 

Clinically proven as effective against mosquitoes, midges and sandflies, the plant-based, DEET-free formula is a natural insect repellent that offers a low-irritant, non-greasy or sticky alternative that protects against mosquito-borne viruses such as Japanese Encephalitis, Ross River Fever and Dengue Fever.

“And as an added bonus, the products smell fabulous,” says Daniel Seldon from Aussie Pharma Direct.

“No one enjoys applying the heavy scent of chemicals to their skin, but in contrast, the Good Riddance insect repellents not only work, but they also smell great too, thanks to the 100% essential oil actives in them. The Tropical insect repellent has a refreshing lemon aroma, and the Sensitive version has a calming lavender scent with herbaceous base notes and an undertone of vanilla.”


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