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EWG’s 2018 Guide to Bug Repellents
July 17, 2018

EWG’s 2018 Guide to Bug Repellents : For Pregnant Women

No repellent is right every time. Click to find your best bet.

 

I'M PREGNANT AND NEED ZIKA PROTECTION

Choose a repellent with Picaridin at a 20 percent concentration, or DEET at a 20 to 30 percent concentration.

Scientists have generally found bug repellents to be safe for pregnant women and their unborn children. The risk of Zika infection is far more serious than side effects of the chemical repellents, provided you use them as directed.

Other things to consider:

  • Try to avoid travel to places where active transmission of Zika is possible.
  • Read the current CDC recommendations.
  • No repellent is 100 percent effective, so take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

I'M PREGNANT AND NEED LYME DISEASE PROTECTION

.As a first line of defense, try to avoid tick bites by covering up with pants, socks, shoes and long sleeves. Consider using picaridin at a 20 percent concentration, DEET at a 20 to 30 percent concentration, or IR3535 at a 20 percent concentration for extra protection.

Other things to consider:

  • No repellent is 100 percent effective, so take extra precautions to avoid tick bites.
  • Check out the CDC's Lyme disease maps to find out if you are in a high-risk area.
  • Check for ticks thoroughly every night and remove ticks properly.
  • The CDC advises not to use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD on very young children, so avoid it while pregnant.
  • Wash your hands after applying repellent and wash repellent-coated skin at the end of the day.
  • Avoid excessive use of any repellent during pregnancy

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I'M PREGNANT AND NEED WEST NILE VIRUS PROTECTION

As a first line of defense, try to avoid mosquito bites by covering up with pants and long sleeves. Also consider using a product with any of the EPA-approved active ingredients: picaridin at a 10 to 20 percent concentration, DEET at a 7 to 30 percent concentration, or IR3535 at a 20 percent concentration. Base the concentration you choose on the amount of time you plan to spend outdoors. Use weaker concentrations and reapply as necessary.

Other things to consider:

  • No repellent is 100 percent effective, so take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
  • Check out the CDC's West Nile Virus maps to find out if you are in a high-risk area.
  • The CDC advises not to use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD on very young children, so avoid it while pregnant.
  • Wash hands after applying repellent and wash repellent-coated skin when you come indoors.
  • Avoid excessive use of any repellent during pregnancy.

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I'M PREGNANT AND WILL BE OUTDOORS FOR A SHORT TIME

Click here if you are concerned about Lyme disease, and click here if you are concerned about West Nile virus. As a first line of defense, cover up with pants and long sleeves. Consider using picaridin at a 5 to 10 percent concentration or DEET at a 7 to 10 percent concentration. Other botanical products may be worth considering, but see our note below. Use weaker concentrations and reapply as necessary.

Other things to consider:

  • Take precautions to avoid both bug bites and excessive repellent exposure during pregnancy.
  • CDC advises not to use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD on very young children, so avoid it while pregnant.
  • Some botanical repellents may be worth trying if bug-borne disease is not a concern, but be aware that many contain highly concentrated allergens. Effectiveness varies widely – experiment to find out what works best for you.
  • Wash hands after applying repellent and wash repellent-coated skin at the end of the day.

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I'M PREGNANT AND NEED ALL-DAY BUG PROTECTION

Click here if you are concerned about Lyme disease, and click here if you are concerned about West Nile virus. As a first line of defense, cover up with pants and long sleeves. Also consider using picaridin at a 5 to 10 percent concentration or DEET at a 7 to 10 percent concentration. Use weaker concentrations and reapplying as necessary.

Other things to consider:

  • Take precautions to avoid both bug bites and excessive repellent exposure during pregnancy.
  • Daily use of DEET for prolonged periods may be inadvisable. Consult your doctor.
  • Wash hands after applying repellent and wash repellent-coated skin at the end of the day.

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I'M PREGNANT AND HAVE SENSITIVE SKIN or ALLERGIES

Click here if you are concerned about Lyme disease, and click here if you are concerned about West Nile virus. As a first line of defense, cover up with pants and long sleeves. Your best repellent choice may be picaridin at a 5 to 10 percent concentration because it has the fewest irritation and allergy concerns. People's bodies react differently, so you may want to try other options to see what works best for you. Use lower concentrations and reapply as necessary.

Other things to consider:

  • Take precautions to avoid both bug bites and excessive repellent exposure during pregnancy.
  • Try repellents on a small patch of exposed skin before slathering it all over.
  • DEET and IR3535 may cause eye irritation, and DEET may cause skin irritation.
  • The CDC advises not to use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD on very young children, so avoid it while pregnant. It may cause allergic skin reactions.
  • Many botanical repellents contain highly concentrated allergens.
  • Wash hands after applying repellent and wash repellent-coated skin at the end of the day.

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BUG-BORNE DISEASES ARE RARE WHERE I LIVE

If the bugs aren't bad, consider forgoing repellent entirely. Otherwise, consider picaridin, DEET or IR3535. Other botanical products may also be worth considering, but see our note. Base the concentration you choose on the amount of time you plan to spend outdoors, but use lower concentrations and reapply as necessary.

Other things to consider:

  • Take precautions to avoid both bug bites and excessive repellent exposure during pregnancy.
  • Some botanical repellents may be worth trying, but many contain highly concentrated allergens. Effectiveness varies widely – experiment to see what works best for you.
  • The CDC advises not to use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD on very young children, so avoid it while pregnant.
  • Wash hands after applying repellent and wash repellent-coated skin at the end of the day.

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