Picaridin is a conventional insect repellent registered for use on skin and clothing in many countries worldwide. Available as a pump spray, aerosol spray and impregnated towelettes, picaridin repels mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, fleas and chiggers. Providing long-lasting protection against bloodsucking insects, picaridin has an excellent track record and is a reliable alternative to DEET.
Picaridin is referred to as Icaridin by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its trade names include Bayrepel and KBR 3023. Icaridin is a colourless, virtually odourless liquid and is present in a range of insect repellent products by Autan, Avon, Care Plus and Cutter. These repellents help prevent bites from mosquitoes that carry potentially serious diseases such as West Nile virus, encephalitis and malaria.
According to the National Pesticide Information Center, Icaridin works by repelling and discouraging insects, making them move away from Icaridin-treated clothing or skin. Icaridin appears to hinder a mosquito’s ability to detect humans by interfering with the insect’s olfactory senses.
On account of the fact that scientific testing has proven the effectiveness and safety of picaridin, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends picaridin for use as an insect repellent. Furthermore, after close inspection of peer-reviewed, scientific studies, the CDC considers picaridin, along with DEET, to provide longer-lasting protection than other insect repellents.
When applied normally as directed, picaridin does not cause irritation to skin, does not pose a health risk to humans, nor is it likely to be carcinogenic. The CDC recommends pregnant women use insect repellents containing DEET or picaridin to reduce the risk of mosquito-transmitted diseases such as West Nile virus. No adverse effects of using picaridin during pregnancy or while breastfeeding have been reported.
Picaridin is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, meaning that it has been thoroughly assessed for both efficacy and safety. It has low toxicity to mammals, birds and aquatic life, and is unlikely to be harmful to the environment.