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Healthier Alternatives to DEET

Healthier Alternatives to DEET

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.

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Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson is a Certified Industrial Hygienist with over 10 years of experience working in the environmental and occupational health field. In addition to writing, he is currently the Environment, Health and Safety Manager for a medium-sized company that has been voted one of Fortune Magazine’s Best Places to Work For and one of CRO Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens. He lives in California with his wife and adopted pound puppy.


+ add your own
8:51AM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

Anything has got to be better than Deet!

4:59AM PDT on Apr 7, 2013

Let's adopt natural and healthier ways

7:30AM PST on Jan 3, 2013

Noted, and living in Minnesota :-)

9:54AM PST on Dec 21, 2012

Thank you Andrew, for Sharing this!

3:10PM PDT on Jun 15, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

12:14AM PDT on Jun 15, 2012

thanks for the info

4:26AM PST on Nov 23, 2011

Thanks for the article.

2:54PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011


2:54PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011


10:37AM PDT on Jun 6, 2011

I have been using various natural alternatives instead of DEET; however, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease 8 months ago. I've had luck keeping the mosquitos away, but need suggestions for keeping the ticks off. I live in PA where we are infested with these dangerous, life altering little F*@&S. Every article I read claims that DEET is the only thing that keeps the ticks off you. I have a 4 year old and truly do not want her to suffer like I am. This Lyme disease is no joke. Any suggestions???

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