Guide to Insect Repellents, Insecticides, and the Prevention of Insect-borne Diseases
Fleas, mosquitoes, lice, assassin bugs, sand flies, chiggers, ticks and other biting insects may be carriers of an infectious disease. With the advent of global warming, insects and insect-borne infectious diseases are spreading to new areas. To protect yourself against contracting an insect-borne infectious disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using the following insect repellents and insecticides; they have been shown to be safe and effective, even in pregnant and breastfeeding women. Clothing, tents, and mosquito netting are ideal for first order of protection and sleeping, especially when saturated with Permethrin (which kills insects on contact).
To protect against chiggers and ticks, wear light-colored or white long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks so ticks can be more easily seen; pull socks over pant cuffs. Wear a hat and place petroleum jelly around hairline to keep ticks from crawling into hair (where they will be very difficult to find). Do a thorough tick check each morning & evening before entering and leaving your tent.
The CDC does not recommend other insect repellents and products as they have not been shown to be effective despite manufacturers claims. These include natural plant oils, (such as citronella oil, cedar oil, geranium oil (or geraniol), and lemongrass oil), repellents containing vitamin B1 or garlic, and wristbands and ultrasonic devices.
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
Interested in learning first aid? Take one of our wilderness medicine courses. Guides and expedition leaders should consider taking our Wilderness First Responder course.
Looking for a reliable field reference? Consider consider purchasing one of our print or digital handbooks; our digital handbook apps are available in English, Spanish, and Japanese. Updates are free for life. A digital SOAP note app is also available.
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