Insect Repellent Safety

This 2006 photograph depicted a female Aedes aegypti mosquito while she was in the process of acquiring a blood meal from her human host, who in this instance, was actually the biomedical photographer, James Gathany

Protecting workers from mosquito bites can prevent diseases.

The safe use of insect repellents is an important way to prevent mosquito bites.

Employers should provide workers with repellents to use on their skin and clothing. Employers should:

  • Provide training about the safe use of insect repellents.
  • Provide workers with repellents to use on exposed skin and clothing:
    • Provide EPA-registered insect repellents and insecticides containing one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. These repellents have been proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.  
    • Provide permethrin to be applied to clothing and gear. Permethrin should never be applied to the skin.

Workers should consistently and safely use insect repellents to decrease their risk of mosquito bites:

  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535,  oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol to exposed skin.
    • Use a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be outdoors and reapply it as needed.
      • The percentage of active ingredient in the repellent determines the length of protection.
    • Carefully follow label directions for repellent use and reapplication.
    • Do not use repellent under clothing or on skin that is injured or irritated.
    • Do not apply pump or aerosol products directly to the face. Instead, spray these products onto the hands and carefully rub them over the face, avoiding the eyes and mouth.
    • If also applying sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
  • Use permethrin products on clothing and gear as directed; do not apply them directly to skin.
    • Permethrin products may be effective after several washings


Page last reviewed: March 21, 2016