3

votes

DEET alternative that *works*?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 02, 2011 at 8:48 PM

I am going to Kenya next month- hiking thru all terrains- and I'm a bit (a lot) concerned with the bug situation. I've got an immune deficiency in which vaccines don't always work in my body, so I'm looking for the best protection from yellow-fever and malaria-ridden bugs as possible. I don't wear repellent and generally don't get bitten much in the states. But that being said...

Does anyone have a tried and true alternative to DEET?

Or should I suck it up and go with the chemicals?

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on July 27, 2013
at 02:29 PM

I hereby grant you a lifetime exemption from "don't be an idiot just use the DEET!" responses.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on February 20, 2012
at 09:21 PM

+1 for cost benefit analysis!

B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3

(1634)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:00 PM

I recently returned from East Africa. Took malarone without any issues... but it was expensive.

8c5533ffe71bd4262fedc7e898ead1ba

(1724)

on July 05, 2011
at 08:45 AM

Sorry, I couldn't pull it out of my head when I first commented. Picaridin which is widely available in Europe and now also in the US (can't remember which brand uses it, but I bought it at Walgreens) has been proven to be just as, or very close, effective as DEET. Personally, I cannot and would not use DEET, though I'm afraid to recommend that to anyone else. Your best bet, honestly, is to stay indoors between 4-6pm and sleep under a mosquito net. When I got cerebral malaria, I was bitten on my breast -- through a bra, shirt, sweater and jacket.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 05, 2011
at 03:56 AM

Woah, nice! Malarone shouldn't trouble you at all, the lowest of all the anti-malarial's in regards to side effects. Have the best adventure!

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 05, 2011
at 12:34 AM

My doc has given me malarone, so I'm hoping to bypass the scary dreams. Thank you for the advice!

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 05, 2011
at 12:30 AM

Fantastic recommendations! I am dreaming about those starry skies...

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 04, 2011
at 11:40 AM

I didn't have any trouble with the mefloquine but traveled with with people who had serious nightmares as well. I was lucky to have people who travled there to do research, as well as had lived there, to offer up additional choices of which the final decisions were mine. One of the beauties of all the advice given is so much food for thought :)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 04, 2011
at 09:27 AM

what do you know on natural stuff?

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on July 04, 2011
at 03:08 AM

I'd try to get an alternative to mefloquine. It gave my truly hellish nightmares.

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on July 04, 2011
at 03:07 AM

I would do whatever the tour guide recommends for attire and safety. Kenya is at a high elevation and fairly dry other than two rainy seasons, which I think she'll miss. Infectious disease docs tend to overprescribe vaccines and meds.

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on July 04, 2011
at 03:04 AM

Nairobi has great Ethiopian restaurants where they roast your coffee in front of a fire. Go to church! Wonderful music.

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on July 04, 2011
at 03:02 AM

I never went to the Carnivore, but I highly recommend Thompsons gazelle. You must go to a game park. Lake Naivasha has so many flamingos it looks like a pink oil slick spilling onto the water. If you're hiking, you'll probably see my favorite site, amazing starry skies with zero light pollution. Go to a craft market and be prepared to negotiate.

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on July 04, 2011
at 02:55 AM

Not bad advice, however Kenya is at a high elevation and fairly dry other than rainy seasons, which she will miss. In my experience, infectious disease docs often overprescibe vaccines and meds. Do what your tour guides do as far as attire and safety. Find an alternative to mefloquine. It will can you horrible nightmares.

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 03, 2011
at 04:48 AM

Great! I'll def have a net as I'll be camping outside. Any must-do's while I'm there? (is Carnivore as thrilling as I hope?)

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on July 03, 2011
at 01:51 AM

thanks for saying this. my husband worked for years at the school of public health doing malaria research and though hes been out of the field for years, has maintained a personal interest in the research. hes barking at me to tell you to use the DEET right now. malaria is a horrifying thing that you dont want to get. a friend in africa covered with DEET, and ended up getting bites through the holes in the grommets in his chuck taylors! mosquitoes are insidious. just use the DEET.

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 02, 2011
at 10:18 PM

I will look into it, thank you. Have a great trip!

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 02, 2011
at 10:18 PM

This definitely puts it in perspective... Science wins! Thank you so much.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 02, 2011
at 09:35 PM

I second this. My downstairs neighbor is Kenyan, and his friend back home contracted malaria and died of acute kidney failure, due to lack of access to dialysis units. And the friend was a medical resident too. Be safe!

535fafe8afe6923870905c707c4f4454

(720)

on July 02, 2011
at 09:13 PM

I am getting alot of advice for my trip to india from indiamike forum. Anti-malaria isnt really a vaccine however taking those drugs for any period at all would make the trip not worth it for me. Fortunately they say covering up (long sleeves and long pants) + DEET is the best solution. My plan is to cover up and use DEET sparingly. Once I get there I will see how the heat is going, bug concentrations, how much they like to bite me and re-evaluate how much DEET to use! There is another chemical they mention that you can soak your clothes in which might reduce DEET use! May be a good idea.

  • Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

    asked by

    (2854)
  • Views
    4.5K
  • Last Activity
    1376D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

10 Answers

best answer

22
663f8792778edb0ba14be0b4cc6945e1

on July 02, 2011
at 09:26 PM

Something to bear in mind: Malaria kills approx 20 million people per year. Potential cancer as a result of DEET exposure is responsible for an inconceivably small fraction of that. Use the stuff that works, and don't risk getting something that actually does murder millions.

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 02, 2011
at 10:18 PM

This definitely puts it in perspective... Science wins! Thank you so much.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 02, 2011
at 09:35 PM

I second this. My downstairs neighbor is Kenyan, and his friend back home contracted malaria and died of acute kidney failure, due to lack of access to dialysis units. And the friend was a medical resident too. Be safe!

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on July 03, 2011
at 01:51 AM

thanks for saying this. my husband worked for years at the school of public health doing malaria research and though hes been out of the field for years, has maintained a personal interest in the research. hes barking at me to tell you to use the DEET right now. malaria is a horrifying thing that you dont want to get. a friend in africa covered with DEET, and ended up getting bites through the holes in the grommets in his chuck taylors! mosquitoes are insidious. just use the DEET.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on February 20, 2012
at 09:21 PM

+1 for cost benefit analysis!

4
8e3782b68e033763485472f414f507a5

(2433)

on July 02, 2011
at 10:17 PM

I use this stuff: http://www.amazon.com/Repel-HG-406T-Eucalyptus-4-Ounce-Repellent/dp/B001DRJE1K

But if I were going to Africa and had an immune deficiency, there's no way I'd take a chance. I'd use Deet.

1
Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 03, 2011
at 03:12 PM

I lived in Central America for a year and was in areas that were very malarial inflicted - I also have friends who are scientists who work on malaria. My advice to you stems from what they gave me in addition to my own research. I would definitely recommend that you talk to a specific travel/health doctor before leaving as they will be more familiar with what you will be up against rather than a regular doctor. Scour WHO and the CDC for the most current information on the area you'll be in. Long sleeved shirts, long pants, hats. Tuck your pants into your boots/socks. Tuck your shirt in. Use DEET, sorry, and spray all your clothes including your boots, mosquito net, etc. I believe the product I used was by Sawyer. I also took Mefloquine with me. I have a friend who contracted Malaria and from hearing personal account on what he had to go through? You don't want it. Take care and good luck!

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on July 04, 2011
at 03:07 AM

I would do whatever the tour guide recommends for attire and safety. Kenya is at a high elevation and fairly dry other than two rainy seasons, which I think she'll miss. Infectious disease docs tend to overprescribe vaccines and meds.

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 05, 2011
at 12:34 AM

My doc has given me malarone, so I'm hoping to bypass the scary dreams. Thank you for the advice!

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on July 04, 2011
at 02:55 AM

Not bad advice, however Kenya is at a high elevation and fairly dry other than rainy seasons, which she will miss. In my experience, infectious disease docs often overprescibe vaccines and meds. Do what your tour guides do as far as attire and safety. Find an alternative to mefloquine. It will can you horrible nightmares.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 04, 2011
at 11:40 AM

I didn't have any trouble with the mefloquine but traveled with with people who had serious nightmares as well. I was lucky to have people who travled there to do research, as well as had lived there, to offer up additional choices of which the final decisions were mine. One of the beauties of all the advice given is so much food for thought :)

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on July 04, 2011
at 03:08 AM

I'd try to get an alternative to mefloquine. It gave my truly hellish nightmares.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 05, 2011
at 03:56 AM

Woah, nice! Malarone shouldn't trouble you at all, the lowest of all the anti-malarial's in regards to side effects. Have the best adventure!

B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3

(1634)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:00 PM

I recently returned from East Africa. Took malarone without any issues... but it was expensive.

1
9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on July 03, 2011
at 04:27 AM

I've made three trips to Kenya -- highlands, Maasai Mara, Nairobi, Eldoret, Kitale, Kajiado, Mombasa. I didn't notice many bugs during the day. I felt like I needed repellent only at night. I took a lotion with DEET (less than 10% I think) and slathered it on before bed. The buzzing in your ears is the worst. Use a net if it's available.

You can get a yellow fever vaccine.

Enjoy your trip! Stock up on Dormans blue mountain coffee while you're there.

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 03, 2011
at 04:48 AM

Great! I'll def have a net as I'll be camping outside. Any must-do's while I'm there? (is Carnivore as thrilling as I hope?)

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on July 04, 2011
at 03:02 AM

I never went to the Carnivore, but I highly recommend Thompsons gazelle. You must go to a game park. Lake Naivasha has so many flamingos it looks like a pink oil slick spilling onto the water. If you're hiking, you'll probably see my favorite site, amazing starry skies with zero light pollution. Go to a craft market and be prepared to negotiate.

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 05, 2011
at 12:30 AM

Fantastic recommendations! I am dreaming about those starry skies...

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on July 04, 2011
at 03:04 AM

Nairobi has great Ethiopian restaurants where they roast your coffee in front of a fire. Go to church! Wonderful music.

1
8be12378a6d810513f69643e21218998

on July 03, 2011
at 02:55 AM

I use a home-made tick and mosquito repellant: about 30 drops each of geranium, citronella and lavender essential oil in a base of a couple ounces of grapeseed oil. I would NOT rely on this in Africa but it works pretty well in my tick-infested yard as long as I re-apply every few hours.

I wonder if there was something non-chemical that the locals use that works. Short of that DEET is probably a necessary measure.

Also helpful to repel biting insects: avoiding anything that spikes the blood sugar and eating lots of raw garlic.

0
61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on July 27, 2013
at 06:00 PM

I had a friend pass away about 6 weeks ago from malaria. He visited Ghana, was infected, and died after he returned to the United States. Take the safe route. Spray yourself, use nets, listen to your guide, and immediately go to the doctor at any hint of symptoms. (For anyone else reading this thread who is traveling in a malaria zone!)

Here in the US where even West Nile is not a huge concern, I use a spray from a local guy when I can't avoid being out at peak times. His spray contains glycerin, lavender, lemongrass, citronella, and some other essential oils.

0
340ee80176fcc8b7dddcebe13f60e88f

on July 27, 2013
at 09:35 AM

Have had experience of DEET induced seizure. So use with care. Looking into alternatives for Africa trip in mosquito season

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on July 27, 2013
at 02:29 PM

I hereby grant you a lifetime exemption from "don't be an idiot just use the DEET!" responses.

0
Medium avatar

(2923)

on February 20, 2012
at 08:43 PM

Repellent
I've had good luck with Picaridin based repellents, still a chemical, but works as well as (or better than) DEET, does not reek like DEET, and does not melt plastic like DEET, doesn't irritate skin like DEET. You can get Natrapel wipes and sprays at most outdoor/camping stores. The most common truly natural alternatives usually include mixes of Citronella (lemongrass), Geranium, Lavender, Peppermint, and/or Eucalyptus oils. The biggest difference between repellents is not so much effectiveness, but how often you need to re-apply the repellents. Even if you are taking an anti-malarial, you still want a repellent, malaria is not the only parasite mosquitoes carry and there's enough other bloodsuckers out there that can pass on some nasty things.

Washing
As a side note, Campsuds makes a bio-degradable camping soap with Citronella, Lavender, and Peppermint oils that keeps the bugs off of you while you shower (and leaves you smelling minty-fresh). Otherwise, Dr. Bronner's Lavender is a classic standby.

Clothing
This is (most likely) overkill, but as a backup measure, I often get a Permethrin (another chemical, generally "safe" around people and dogs, BUT toxic to cats) based clothing treatment. Sawyer seems the easiest to get hold of.

Anti-Malarial
I've had the best luck with Malarone, one of the more expensive anti-malarials, but doesn't have the nasty side effects of the 'quines and doesn't wreck your gut flora like (the MUCH cheaper) Doxycycline (broad spectrum anti-biotic [leaves me exhausted with the full run of symptoms you would expect from a harsh antibiotic regimen]). Note that with any anti-malarial, you really don't want to be taking them for the long term (usually one to two months at the most).

0
6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on February 20, 2012
at 06:57 PM

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus is supposedly effective, but I have not used it personally.

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/aznaturalremedyindex/a/mosquito.htm

0
8c5533ffe71bd4262fedc7e898ead1ba

on July 04, 2011
at 08:59 AM

Reactions to mefloquine are very perosnal. I've taken it for 3 Tera straight with not problems. You can also take malarone, but it is very, very expensive and not covered by insurance. It is effective and has lower risk of side effects.

Mosquitos are generally worst at dusk and dawn, so pay particular attention then.

Natural stuff does exist, tho' it's not as effective as Deet and needs to be reapplied very frequently.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 04, 2011
at 09:27 AM

what do you know on natural stuff?

8c5533ffe71bd4262fedc7e898ead1ba

(1724)

on July 05, 2011
at 08:45 AM

Sorry, I couldn't pull it out of my head when I first commented. Picaridin which is widely available in Europe and now also in the US (can't remember which brand uses it, but I bought it at Walgreens) has been proven to be just as, or very close, effective as DEET. Personally, I cannot and would not use DEET, though I'm afraid to recommend that to anyone else. Your best bet, honestly, is to stay indoors between 4-6pm and sleep under a mosquito net. When I got cerebral malaria, I was bitten on my breast -- through a bra, shirt, sweater and jacket.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!