Beware the "skeeters" AND the DEET!
I started writing this blog entry over a month ago, but never got it finished. So since the summer is quickly getting away from us, I figured it'd be good to at least get what I have written out there in case it might be of use to somebody.
With the threat of West Nile Virus, everyone seems concerned about mosquito bites these days. Many advocate the use of insect repellents containing DEET, but before you spray you and your family down, you might want to read up on DEET, how to use it safely, and/or alternative insect repellents that don't contain DEET at all. After all, your skin is your largest organ. Do you really want to cover it in chemicals when there are other options available?
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Fact Sheet on Using DEET
Includes info on how to use DEET safely (which is kind of scary if you ask me) like:
- Do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
- Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing.
- After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water. (I don't remember ever doing this as a kid. Ack.)
- Wash treated clothing before wearing it again.
- Use of this product may cause skin reactions in rare cases.
And also includes info on what to do in the event of a reaction to DEET.
Least Toxic Alternatives to DEET - includes info on plant oils and citronella, as well as names of "natural" repellents and their websites
The insect repellent I bought this year is All Terrain Herbal Armor - DEET-free lotion. It seems to work quite well, though definitely has a strong odor of citronella, but I don't think it smells any worse than OFF!, etc.
I think the bottom line is that, as with all products that go onto your skin, you should know what's in it and what the potential risks are before you use it. Sometimes the risks outweigh the benefits and sometimes vice versa. The trick is to know the facts ahead of time and make informed decisions. :)