I traveled to Bloomington, Minn., a few weeks ago. My mom kept warning me about the mosquitoes. “Don’t forget bug spray,” she warned. “You’re going to the land of 10,000 lakes.”
Given her warnings, I wondered how anyone could live in Minnesota. Wouldn’t they be sucked dry by bloodthirsty mosquitoes? Then I remember my old friend DEET. Bugs are no match against the power of DEET, but I am concerned about rubbing it all over my exposed skin.
Anything as effective and powerful as DEET can’t be all good, which is exactly what some studies suggest. DEET has been found to cause rashes, skin irritation, numb or burning lips, nausea, headaches, dizziness and difficulty concentration in some people. A study in rats found frequent and prolonged DEET use caused “diffuse brain cell death.” I have no idea what that is, but it sounds awful. To be fair, there have been other studies that have found DEET to be relatively harmless when used occasionally and millions of people have probably used DEET with no problems.
Still, rubbing DEET on my skin and around my eyes makes me uneasy. I’ve tried other types of bug sprays in the past, but nothing seems to work as well as DEET. A healthier alternative that has hit the market in the last few years (oil of lemon eucalyptus used in OFF! Botanicals) has been approved by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and appear to be effective alternatives to DEET.
There are also some DIY mosquito repellents you can try. Read all about them here.
If you’re like me, you may want to try a healthier alternative to DEET the next time you are in Minnesota.