Preventing Mosquito Bites

Key points

  • Take steps to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites that can make you sick.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents.
  • Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Wear clothing and gear treated with permethrin.
  • Control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors.
Person applying insect repellent to their arm

Protect yourself and your family

Mosquitoes bite day and night. They spread germs through bites that can make you sick. Prevent illness by protecting yourself and your family from mosquito bites.

Use insect repellent

Person applying insect repellent.
Use proven EPA-registered insect repellents.

Use EPA-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

  • DEET
  • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the United States)
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)—A plant-derived ingredient
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone—A plant-derived ingredient

Find an EPA-registered insect repellent‎

With EPA's search tool you can specify protection time, active ingredient, and other product information.

Tips for babies and children

  • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
  • Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.

When using insect repellent on your child

  • Always follow label instructions.
  • Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
  • Do not apply repellent to a child's hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin.
  • Adults: Apply repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child's face.

Tips for everyone

  • Always follow the product label instructions.
  • Reapply repellent as directed.
  • Do not apply repellent on the skin under clothing.
  • If you are using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.

Wear protective clothing

Photo showing two people hiking in protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites.
Wear protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites.
  • Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Wear clothing and gear treated with permethrin.
    • Permethrin is an insecticide that kills or repels mosquitoes.
    • Permethrin-treated clothing provides protection after multiple washings.
    • Do not use permethrin products directly on skin.

Control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors

  • Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors.
  • Use air conditioning, if available.
  • Stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water.
    • Check for water-holding containers both indoors and outdoors.
    • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers.

About natural repellents

  • We do not know the effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents, including some natural repellents.
  • To protect yourself against germs spread by mosquitoes, CDC and EPA recommend using an EPA-registered insect repellent.
  • Choosing an EPA-registered insect repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness.
  • Visit the EPA website to learn more.