Health and safety forum
Deet OR Picaridn?
24th April, 2008
Location United States
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Just a quick question. Has anyone used Picaridin over Deet in Southeast Asia? I was going to buy Deet insect repellent and realized a lot of insect repellent say "DEET FREE" so I found out that Deet based insect repellent can cause skin irritations and shouldn't be worn under clothing and should be washed off thoroughly every night. I have very sensitive skin so I was wondering if anyone else has had a problem with Deet or have tried Picaridin.
#1 Posted: 8/6/2008 - 04:51
For those looking here, go to:
#2 Posted: 5/6/2009 - 18:47
i use Ultrathon - which is 34% Deet, but is slow release and is only applied once a day... never been bitten when using it
fully tested by the godd ole US military in he jungles of central america...
#3 Posted: 5/6/2009 - 23:43
Might I suggest that 34% DEET is far too low a number. The number should be 100% if you want anything more than a couple of hours of protection!
Please go to:
I'm not advocating Picaridin. Rather, alerting people that Picaridin is replacing DEET as the manufacturer's chemical of choice. This suggests people may ask the question "what is Picaridin, and is it same or better than DEET?"
Since posting this, I've learnt that Picaridin is now available in the US. How abundant, I don't know.
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I just found this (below) at:
Picaridin, aka Icaridin, KBR 3023, Bayrepel, IR3535, and KBR was developed by Bayer AG of Germany in the 1980's. Bayer used 3D computer modeling to create a repellent at the molecular level that could block the sensory receptors of malaria carrying mosquitoes of the Anopheles genus as well the Blacklegged tick (Deer tick). The result was a repellent more effective than DEET against the aggressive Asian and African species of mosquitoes as well as stable flies and deer ticks; and as effective, or nearly so, against most other mosquitoes, flies, and ticks.....and Picaridin does this without the adverse side effects of DEET. In numerous laboratory tests, the most serious effects on test animals were to rats that were fed 5,000mg./day of Picaridin. They suffered liver damage. For you or I to get the same equivalent dosage we'd have to drink 15-20 cans of Picaridin a day....Compare that to the fact that as little as 2-4 ounces of DEET will kill a person. Picaridin is practically non-toxic to most mammals including humans, dogs, and cats; and it doesn't dissolve plastics and other synthetics the way DEET does. It's also biodegradable, making it much safer for the environment. Picaridin however, doesn't work the same way DEET does. It forms a defensive barrier on the skin which can take 15-30 minutes to form. Until then it's very ineffective. So give it time.
N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) was invented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the mid 1940's for use by the Army and it was made available to the public in 1957. For 50 years DEET has been the most effective longest-lasting mosquito and black fly repellant available. Despite it's super-effectiveness DEET has a few drawbacks.
1) DEET dissolves many plastics and other synthetics including: backpacks, clothing, watch crystals, cameras, paint finishes, sealants, as well as many other products.
3) The stuff repels humans almost as well as it repels insects due to it's smell and the greasy feel it leaves on the skin.
2) DEET applied to the skin is absorbed by the body. It is then excreted through perspiration and urination. That's right, you'll pee DEET for up to 24 hours after using it. After you flush and wash off the DEET applied to your clothing and skin it is sent off to a water/sewer treatment plant where the DEET will pass right through because these facilities were not designed to break down DEET and DEET is not biodegradable. For over 50 years DEET has been accumulating in our rivers, lakes and oceans, and recently it has been discovered that even some of our nations municipal water supplies have measurable concentrations of DEET in them. So what risk is there to the environment?
From the 1998 E.P.A. R.E.D. fact sheet:
"...Because DEET is only applied directly to the human body/clothing, cats, dogs, pet quarters and household/domestic dwellings, it is considered to be an “indoor residential” use...Ecological risk assessments are not conducted for pesticides with
exclusively indoor use patterns. Application of DEET to the human
body/clothing, cats, dogs, pet quarters, and household/domestic dwellings, is not likely to adversely affect terrestrial wildlife or aquatic organisms..." Obviously written by a politician!
4) Finally, it has been demonstrated (proven) that DEET can react with other chemicals/drugs in the body to produce unexpected and even fatal consequences, especially with DEET concentrations greater than 30%. A Canadian medical bulletin stated that DEET may have significantly greater toxicity when combined with ethyl and/or isopropyl alcohols and freon which are common in some DEET products. It has also been shown in laboratory tests that extended use of DEET kills neurons in the brain that control muscle movement, learning, memory and concentration. It shouldn't be any surprise that many countries, as well as New York City, have banned repellents with high concentrations of DEET or have banned DEET altogether. Note: The combination of DEET and an experimental drug (PB) used by Gulf War veterans is suspected by some researchers to be the cause of Gulf War Syndrome.
Both DEET and Picaridin were tested against grass, dandelions, and household plants. Both performed flawlessly. They are effective defoliants.
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Does this provide ideas about the better product to use?
#4 Posted: 6/6/2009 - 05:48
Bruce please see this link
I agree 34% is low, but Ultrathon is slow release... that is the point of it
#5 Posted: 6/6/2009 - 19:04
31st May, 2009
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BruceMoon- do you know if Picaridin is available in SE Asia yet?
#6 Posted: 6/6/2009 - 22:11
I have a couple of science degrees, and I think I know enough to realise when a product is potentially a problem. I also recognise that I don't have enough chemical knowledge to be an expert.
I didn't know what Picaridin was, so I went and had a look at the science of it. At that point, I thought I should have a look at the science of DEET. What I saw about DEET alarmed me.
We, in Australia, follow a similar drug appraisal regime as is done in Nth America (Europe has an infinitely better drug appraisal process). One of the problems about our drug appraisal process is that once a drug is adopted, the proof necessary to get it taken off the shelves is significantly greater than the proof needed to get it on. To my mind, because DEET has been used since 1957 the chemical companies will point to half a century of use as a means to disallow even legitimate concerns. On this issue, look at the 'defence' used to maintain the use of DDT (amongst many).
Personally, I will now not use DEET. Not only because it has potential health problems, but also because it has minimal effectiveness against mosquito's unless used in 80%+ strength.
Also, if you read the background science of DEET, you will see that the argument advocated for Ultrathon use challenges the fundamental premise of chemical physics. At 34%, DEET will last some 3 to 4 hours because it evaporates, is broken down by ultra violet light and is absorbed into the skin. So, a chemical company saying that it will last longer is really saying that it has found a way to stop the product evaporating, etc. Ask yourself Isn't it the evaporation of DEET that keeps bugs away? If so, how can Ultrathon be as effective as other products?
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I don't know as I haven't gone looking for it. But, because much of the merchandise in SE Asia is sourced from companies marketing to Australasia, Japan, etc., if not now, it wan't be long.
#7 Posted: 7/6/2009 - 06:31
Consumer Reports advocates using no more than 35% deet.
Maybe that is because of what BruceMoon quoted above: "...especially with DEET concentrations greater than 30%...."
CR research shows that 35% is indeed effective and the effectiveness is less in direct proportion to the next lower % numbers.
My experience confirms that 35% is adequate.
#8 Posted: 7/6/2009 - 16:43
A MAJOR PROBLEM with discussions about chemicals is that the chemical industry is adept in making (potential) consumers feel comfortable about GROSS POISON.
This is no more apparent than with the US chemical firms (eg. try Monsanto and Dioxin).
As indicated above, the US chemical industry would prefer consumers to use DEET - even though there are health risks - than use a European made product.
If the US 'industry' suggests limiting DEET to 30% - then ask yourself WHY?.
Answer - coz more than 30% is potentially harmful.
But 30% DEET only lasts a few hours. Yes, it's effective. But ONLY for a few hours. Then consumers have to apply more DEET. Mmmmmm!!!!
When will the US chemical industry give up and admit that they have a flawed product?
#9 Posted: 7/6/2009 - 18:18
20th August, 2004
we've had good luck with once a day applications of Ultrathon; anecdotally, it does indeed seem to retain it's effectiveness throughout the whole day, but I don't like the idea of having DEET on my skin for extended periods and really don't like the way it feels, sticky and greasy, can't wait to get back to the GH to wash the stuff off, so I welcome an effective alternative. Definitely will look into picaridin next time out.
#10 Posted: 8/6/2009 - 23:35
I only concerned myself with the issue of Picaridin and DEET because when I went to buy a replacement bug repellant product, those on the shelves here contained Picaridin: I had been using strong DEET. I now cannot buy DEET in our supermarkets. But, most of the companies producing bug repellant products on our supermarket shelves are US based.
I also note that our Military forces have moved over to Picaridin.
I don't think it's because of some ban, etc., as I can buy a DEET product (and at 80%) from camping stores.
I just think that the health aspect must be more persuasive here and in Europe than in the US.
#11 Posted: 9/6/2009 - 06:04
29th June, 2009
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The UK clearly has taken on board much anti deet advice as now many of the repellants have clear DEET FREE labelling as if its part of their advertising. the products that do contain deet are usually 80-100% deet and are sprays.
leads me to conclusion highly concentrated deet products are NOT to be used on the skin (this is where Picardin steps in) but would be usueful for the nightly spray of the bedroom and for impregnating mossie nets.
This is not scientific advice - just common sense assumption!
#12 Posted: 5/7/2009 - 22:02
I am looking forward to trying out the Picaridin since the reseach confirms that it is effective.
The only question is if it more comfortable that the nasty deet products. I have never used above the recommended limit of 35% deet. Most of the products in the Thai stores seems to be 12 to 25% deet.
I buy the roll on, which is more compact than spray. Liquids are not easy to apply without getting on your hands all contaminated and stinky. Hope the Pic... comes in the roll on.
I have tried the other substitutes, eg Eucaliptus etc, but they stink too and don't test well on research.
#13 Posted: 6/7/2009 - 12:32
It doesn't have that petroleum chemically feel - and the one I used certainly smelt better.
I've since located some lemon scented gum anti-bug rollon. Given that I'm Australian, I'm used to (and like) the lemony smell. I've found it works well.
Note that elsewhere this is called lemon eucalypt. But it's not a eucalypt, its a Corymbia.
#14 Posted: 6/7/2009 - 13:33
We have plenty of mossies here in Alaska, but no malaria or dungue.
btw, huxley, deet is not effective at all as an insecticide to spray rooms or clothing. That would be a different chemical altogether.
#15 Posted: 6/7/2009 - 14:09
In Australia, the Aboriginal folk used 'bush remedies'. For mosquito and other biting insects, they used a coastal plant (commonly known as ti-tree).
Since, distilled ti-tree (oil) has proven a wonderful remedy for mosquito and sandfly bites. It's also a good deterrant.
What do the Inuit or Eskimo use?
#16 Posted: 6/7/2009 - 14:28
I don't know what the natives used to use. Now they are McDonalds and cola Americans.
#17 Posted: 6/7/2009 - 17:30
Only certain types of mosquitos carry Dengue and Malaria... that's why it's not prevelent in northern climates, because those mosquito types don't breed there.
#18 Posted: 7/7/2009 - 02:07
Surprised that no one has mentioned Neem oil.
Mix 2% neem in coconut oil. A friend did a test. She applied some 100% DEET that she'd got while visiting her daughter in Alaska and watched Bangkok mosquitoes bite right through it. She also tested the 2% Neem mix. Not one mozzie tried to bite her.
That's anecdotal, could have been a fluke but there has been some scientific research on the repellent properties of Neem oil too.
Also anecdotal and not tested by any boffins AFAIK ... I think it needs to be freshly mixed. The repellent effect seems to diminish over time if you keep the neem/coconut oil mixture in a bottle.
#19 Posted: 7/7/2009 - 03:54
PS. The last reference in the link (#19) said this.
"Two percent neem oil mixed in coconut oil, when applied to the exposed body parts of human volunteers, provided complete protection for 12 h from the bites of all anopheline species. Application of neem oil is safe and can be used for protection from malaria in endemic countries."
12 hours protection is longer than you get with DEET. But as I said, I suspect it needs to be freshly mixed.
#20 Posted: 7/7/2009 - 04:03
The abstracts listed on PubMed (your link) suggest that the efficacy of Neem oil is now sufficiently well studied to support an hypothesis that Neem oil is a useful insect repellent in tropical areas.
Vegetable oils do evaporate, but likely at a lot slower rate than chemical derivations (like DEET) - especially when the chemical manufacturer's limit prolonged efficacy to enhance re-application (and thereby profit).
#21 Posted: 7/7/2009 - 06:43
All I know (and like SBE says this is anecdotal) is I used DEET on my equipment in Africa and got very good results from it. But our doc specifically told us NOT to apply it to skin.
#22 Posted: 7/7/2009 - 14:41
MADMAC- Sad that a doc could be so wrong!
A quick search deet will show you that it is ONLY for use on your skin. One could even read the instructions on the bottle :)
For example the CDC site says:
"...Apply permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent to clothing, as mosquitoes may bite through thin fabric. (Remember: don't use permethrin on skin.)...Always follow the instructions on the product label.
Deet-Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the product label.) Do not use repellents under clothing..."
#23 Posted: 7/7/2009 - 17:51
You know, I must have gotten them mixed up - it was 16 years ago... I could easily be wrong here and just have mixed the two up. Because we did use permethrin too. I could have sworn it was DEET we used on equipment... Man I am getting old.
#24 Posted: 7/7/2009 - 18:26
Ha ha, me too. I keep forgetting to get checked for alheimerz.
#25 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 04:12
(tongue in cheek)...
You don't have to get checked for alheimerz cause you appear to have Alzheimer's!!!
#26 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 05:40
4th December, 2008
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OK. Some comments are really funny. You guys have made me laugh. I posted the same question in another thread but I still don´t get the answers. So: what should I buy once I get to Bangkok? Any trade mark? I am heading northwards to Chiang Mai and then Laos and so on. Any help?
#27 Posted: 22/7/2009 - 21:46
I did not notice any Picaridin in Thailand. You may want to bring some if that is your choice.
If you choose, Deet is available at Every pharmacy and many stores like Tesco Lotus, Carrafour etc. I buy the white roll on bottle that is about 24% deet. Works good.
I like it because unlike lotion you don't have to get it on your hands to apply and spray is way more bulky for what you get.
I have been looking for the piciridin to try out.
#28 Posted: 23/7/2009 - 06:16
I don't know where you are now.
For Picaridin products...
In UK, try Autan (go here)
In the US, try Bayrepel (various brands, including Cutter, Lanxess or Saltidin (go here.
Some of these brands may also be available in pharmacies in Thailand (but not Boots, as its Japanese).
Lemon Eucalyptus oil product
Mosi-Guard is available in Australia (made here) and the UK (go here) and that site also sells on-line (as does the Oz one).
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I have a sneaky suspicion that Thailand is still in the land of DEET. So, you may have to look around. Note that some products smell like lemon, but contain DEET (eg. Jaico).
#29 Posted: 23/7/2009 - 06:34
28th July, 2009
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Hey Sputniko- try diluting a Deet based insect repellant with a weaker insect repellant, or even water or liquid spray sun screen. That's what Ive done in the past, that way your protected from the suns UV rays, and thoose nasty little critters! I wouldnt use A Deet based repellant neat- I have ver sensitive skin aswel. Good luck on your travels
#30 Posted: 28/7/2009 - 16:55
May I suggest the approach you suggest can have unintended and even undesirable consequences.
A very major issue in chemistry is the reactivity between two chemical substances. DEET is an example of using reactivity positively.
Citing Wikipedia, DEET is "prepared from m-methylbenzoic acid and diethylamine. This ...[resultant] acid chloride is subsequently reacted with the diethylamine.
There are many examples where reactivity has horrible consequences.
Until, or unless, two chemicals are shown not to react in an undesirable way, it is wise not to mix chemicals.
#31 Posted: 29/7/2009 - 05:57
I used a Deet based product last night. Mr Pat and I were up late playing chess, and the mosquitos came out flying in formation and dive bombing our position. So I went to seven and bought some of that crap applied from paper. It did work (mosquitos broke formation and then returned to base) but I accidentaly got some in my mouth (licking my hand from a sandwidch - and it tastes horrible. Probably isn't healthy either. First time since I've been in Thailand I used a moquito repellent.
#32 Posted: 29/7/2009 - 13:23
3rd August, 2009
Messaging not enabled.
Just to say we've been using Autan, from the UK, for years and found it amazingly effective and no side affects. Didn't understand the science until I read this forum though. Very helpful, as always.
#33 Posted: 4/8/2009 - 05:15
8th November, 2009
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This is all very interesting and such, but all I want to know is:
- Can I get an ICARIDIN containing product in SE Asia
- Is there a specific product?
- Is it only available in Bangkok or throughout SE Asia?
#34 Posted: 11/11/2009 - 20:10
I agree with Bruce above that you may not find it because I never did see it there.
I looked because I bought the roll on deet abundantly available. There are lots of threads on this topic to search. I don't remember anyone saying that Pic is available.
The deet roll-on in Thailand are about 16% deet and work well. Resarch recommends to use up to 35%. (eg Consumer Reports etc). Ignore those saying to use higher.
#35 Posted: 12/11/2009 - 02:27
13th November, 2009
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I've been looking to Picaridan products in Australia (Sydney specifically) but I haven't been able to find any, especially on the internet. Autan is only available in the UK and its really expensive, if not impossible to ship over here.
Does anyone know any Picaridan brands sold in Australia? Preferably with about 20% Picaridan.
#36 Posted: 13/11/2009 - 16:45
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