We all like to spend time outdoors, but we don’t like to be bitten by insects.

DEET is an insect repellent. It basically makes you smell bad to an insect. The concentration is important. You should try to get something in between 25 and 40% DEET in order to be effective as a repellent. You can find formulations that are higher but above 40% is not necessary for effective repellent. If you are concerned about toxicity when using DEET you can try applying to the exposed skin as well as to the clothes near the exposed skin such as the collar and sleeves of a shirt. You can create an insect repellent type plume in those areas.

Picaridin is another insect repellent that is not as toxic as DEET, so its the preferred one for children.

You can also use permethrin sprays, like the one pictured above, to coat clothing. This protective spray should last a couple of washings. The permethrin is an insecticide (even though it says ‘repellent ‘) so if any insects land on your clothes they would die. Although it sounds like something you wouldn’t want near your skin, permethrin is the same medication that is used to treat scabies infestations and in those situations the medication is applied directly to the skin and washed off hours later.

Once bitten, I recommend soothing sarna lotion. The menthol creates a cooling sensation on your skin and distracts from the bites. If the bites are really bad, head to your friendly neighborhood dermatologist for a prescription topical steroid to help them go away faster.