What is DEET?
DEET is a pesticide that is found in most types of bug spray and other topical insect repellents.
Insect repellents are used to avoid bites from mosquitos, ticks, fleas and similar pests. Most DEET insect repellents are sprayed on the skin or clothing, while some are applied as skin lotions.
The concentration of DEET is given on the product label as a percentage. A higher percentage will provide longer protection, up to about 50 percent.
Using insect repellent with DEET can help prevent diseases carried by ticks and mosquitoes, such as Lyme disease, Powassan virus, EEE and West Nile virus.
DEET is very safe when used properly. It can cause some side effects when applied to the skin, and it can cause symptoms if you swallow it. Symptoms are more likely in children. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that you use repellents that are only 10% to 30% DEET on children, and avoid using DEET on those age 2 months and younger.
Getting DEET in your eyes can cause irritation.