Is DEET safe?
A. Yes, products containing DEET are very safe when used according to the directions. Because DEET is so widely used, a great deal of testing has been done. When manufacturers seek registration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for products such as DEET, laboratory testing regarding both short-term and long-term health effects must be carried out. Over the long history of DEET use, very few confirmed incidents of toxic reactions to DEET have occurred when the product is used properly. (From the National Pesticide Information Center [NPIC], EPA re-registration eligibility decision. See npic.orst.edu/factsheets/DEETgen.pdf . )
Insect Repellents and Sunscreen New!
A. Yes. People can and should use both sunscreen and DEET when they are outdoors to protect their health. Follow the instructions on the package for proper application of each product. Apply sunscreen first, followed by repellant containing DEET.
To protect from sun exposure and insect bites, you can also wear long sleeves and long pants. You can also apply insect repellent containing DEET or permethrin to your clothing, rather than directly to your skin.
A. No. Based on available research, CDC believes it is safe to use both products at the same time. Follow the instructions on the package for proper application of each product. Apply sunscreen first, then insect repellent containing DEET, to be sure that each product works as specified.
A. Because the instructions for safe use of DEET and safe use of sunscreen are different, CDC does not recommend using products that combine DEET with sunscreen.
In most situations, DEET does not need to be reapplied as frequently as sunscreen. DEET is very safe when applied correctly. The rare adverse reactions to DEET have generally occurred in situations where people do not follow the product instructions. Sunscreen often requires frequent reapplication, so using a combined product is not recommended. You do not need to reapply insect repellent every time you reapply sunscreen. Follow the instructions on the package for each product to get the best results.
A. There has been attention to a study concerning the chemicals in DEET and sunscreen presented at a scientific meeting. This is an in vitro study, which means that it is a laboratory study that did not include human or animal testing. The goal of the study was to examine absorption of these chemicals, and it did not evaluate or make conclusions about health effects related to this issue. The study authors stated that further evaluation of the interaction of these chemicals should be conducted. The study has not yet been published (as of July 2003).