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Is it safe to use insect repellent while I'm pregnant?

Is it safe to use insect repellent while I'm pregnant?


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Yes. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), insect repellents are considered safe during pregnancy when used as recommended. (See whether they're safe for breastfeeding moms.)

And they're an important part of protecting yourself from mosquito-borne viruses, especially when you're traveling to places where these illnesses are common. (See our articles on Zika, dengue, and West Nile for more information and travel advisories.)

EPA-registered products containing the active ingredients DEET, picaridin, 2-undecanone, or IR3535 offer safe and longer-lasting protection. Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE or para-menthane-diol, PMD) products are also safe, but most don't last as long. (Don’t use pure oil of lemon eucalyptus – it’s too strong.) EPA-registered citronella products are safe but don't last as long either.

Permethrin is also a repellent but is not safe to use on skin. Permethrin products are for use on clothing, shoes, bed nets, and camping gear.

The percentage of DEET is an indicator of how long the repellent will be effective – not of how well it will work. The higher the percentage, the less often you need to apply it – up to concentrations of 30 percent. (Concentrations higher than 30 percent won't give you any added protection.)

Follow the same safety precautions that you would for applying insect repellents to children.

Find out more ways to protect yourself from mosquitoes in ways that are considered safe during pregnancy.

Video: Learn more about using insect repellents during pregnancy.


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