DEET is absorbed through the skin and passes into the blood stream the same way that the nicotine patch does. Knowing this, why would you willingly ingest a chemical that has effects on the central nervous system? When DEET is combined with permethrin, a common mosquito spray ingredient, it can lead to motor deficits and learning and memory dysfunction.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cautions that DEET users should:
- Apply DEET only to exposed skin and/or clothing. Don’t put DEET on skin that will be covered by clothing — this will cause your skin to absorb the DEET.
- Don’t use DEET on any open wounds or rashes.
- Keep DEET out of your eyes, mouth and ears.
- Don’t spray it directly on your face.
- Avoid inhaling it. (How? It’s usually in a spray can, as stated previous precaution.)
- Don’t apply DEET near food or use it in enclosed areas. (Ummmm…. picnics?)
- Apply DEET in a thin layer — just enough to cover your exposed skin. Avoid heavy application or oversaturation.
- Once you return indoors, make sure you wash off the DEET with soap and water. It’s especially important to do this if you plan to reapply the DEET later or the next day. (No need to wash off our essential oils. The ganenium actually has a calming effect.)