The key to getting maximum protection from insect repellents is to apply them correctly. Stronger repellents last longer, but still need to be applied thoroughly to be effective. And it’s worth knowing that applying more product doesn’t necessarily give you stronger or longer protection.
How to apply insect repellent
- Apply insect repellent to all exposed skin using your hands or directly onto the skin. Either way you’ll need to rub it in to ensure coverage.
- To apply it to the face, put some in your hands and use just enough to cover the face, around the ears and the neck. Don’t spray it directly onto the face as it could get into your mouth or eyes.
- Don’t forget to apply to to your elbows, neck, ankles and other hard-to-reach areas. If you’re wearing baggy clothes - loose shorts, shirts or dresses - you may need to apply to potentially exposed skin. Mozzies will fly up your skirt or shorts to bite you!
- If you’re wondering how to apply insect repellent and sunscreen, put on your sunscreen first, wait a few minutes for it to absorb and then apply your repellent as normal.
- Surprisingly mosquitoes can bite through clothes and other linens. We recommend applying a permethrin treatment kit to clothes (as well as bedding and mosquito nets) that can be worn on the outer layer. Usually a long sleeve shirt and long pants. Permethrin treatments can last up to 10 washes before the clothing needs to be treated again.
How to use insect repellent on children and infants
- DEET (up to 30%), Picaridin (up to 25%) and natural based repellents are safe to use on children over 2 months. Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus is recommended for children over 3 years.
- Apply repellent to your own hands first and rub it onto their skin, avoiding their eyes and mouth. Don’t apply it to their hands as they may put their hands in their mouth.
What not to do
- Don’t apply to cuts, grazes, open or irritated skin.
- Don't keep using a repellent if you notice a rash or skin irritation. Stop using the repellent and seek advice from health professional.
- Avoid letting DEET product come into contact with plastics, leather, paint, varnish and synthetics. If it doesn't, wipe it off as soon as you can. DEET won’t damage cotton, wool or nylon.