Mosquito and tick-borne diseases are on the rise nationwide, and the best way to protect yourself is with a good insect repellent.
Many of the highest-rated products contain DEET at concentrations of 15 percent to 30 percent.
Now, you may worry about using a chemical like DEET on your children, but research has shown that DEET with concentrations of 30 percent or less is safe when used as directed, even for children and pregnant women.
Consumer Report's two top-rated repellents contain DEET. They were:
- Total Home CVS Woodland Scent Insect Repellent
- Off Deep Woods Insect Repellent Eight Dry
Also performing well in CR’s testing were a 30 percent Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus repellent, and a 20 percent picaridin repellent.
Research suggests both are safe, though OLE shouldn’t be used on children under 3 years old.
To get the best protection from any of these repellents, you must apply them properly. So follow the directions on the label.
For those who want to go the natural route, perhaps with a repellent containing citronella or other essential oils, CR’s tests have shown that most natural products -- with the exception of Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus -- don't perform well against mosquitoes.
As part of Consumer Reports' expert testing against mosquitos, a standard dose of repellent is applied to each test subject’s forearms. Each subject tests two repellents at a time -- one on each arm -- then sticks each arm into a cage of 200 disease-free mosquitoes of one species for five minutes.
The repellent fails if there are two bites in one exposure period or one bite in each of two consecutive sessions.
CR did not test all repellents against ticks, but previous test results and further research indicate that any product that protects from mosquito bites will also likely protect from tick bites.