Expert Commentary

What insect repellents are safe during pregnancy?

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Physicians have requested information about which insect repellents to recommend to help pregnant women avoid Zika and other mosquito-born infections



With summer almost upon us, and the weather warming in many parts of the country, we have received questions from colleagues about the best over-the-counter insect repellants to advise their pregnant patients to use.

The preferred insect repellent for skin coverate is DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) (TABLE). Oil of lemon/eucalyptus/para-menthane-diol and IR3535 are also acceptable repellents to use on the skin that are safe for use in pregnancy. In addition, patients should be instructed to spray permethrin on their clothing or buy clothing (boots, pants, socks) that has been pretreated with permethrin.1,2

TABLE OTC insect repellents appropriate for use in pregnancy
DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide)
Off!SC JohnsonPreferred repellent for
use on the skin
Repel 100Spectrum Brands
Ultra 30 Liposome Controlled ReleaseSawyer
Oil of lemon/eucalyptus/
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect RepellentSpectrum BrandsAcceptable option for
skin use
IR3535Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535 ExpeditionAvonAcceptable option for
skin use
PermethrinRepel Permethrin Clothing & Gear AerosolSpectrum BrandsFor use
on clothing
Permethrin Pump SpraySawyer
Abbreviations: OTC, over the counter

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