While this story deals with tick repellents – which ones are most effective and how to use them – my story: 5 myths about ticks and my top 10 tick safety tips provides a lot more information on ticks and how to avoid a tick bite.
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Effective Tick Repellents & Application
- For the best protection against ticks, you need to do two things: a) spray exposed skin with insect repellent containing 20-30% DEET and b) spray your clothing and footwear with tick repellent containing 0.5% permethrin1.
- If you cannot find gear sprays containing permethrin, your best option is insect repellent containing 20-30% DEET. Be sure to reapply as needed for maximum benefit, and reapply sooner if ticks are not being repelled.
- OFF! Deep Woods Sportsmen II, Ben’s 30% DEET, and 3M Ultrathon are a few insect repellents that contain 30% DEET.
30% DEET Insect Repellents
- StopTicks.org recommends the following permethrin tick repellents: Sawyer Permethrin (formerly known as Coulston Duranon), Repel Permanone, and Cutter Outdoorsman Gear Guard.
- Coleman Gear & Clothing Insect Treatment and Ultrathon Gear & Clothing Insect Repellent are two other 0.5% permethrin sprays to consider.
- IN CANADA, try horse tack shops for permethrin based tick repellents. Absorbine Ultra-Shield is available at The Horse Store.
Absorbine Ultra Shield contains 0.5% permethrin
|Coleman Permethrin Insect Repellent|
- >10% DEET is not recommended for use by children less than 12 years old5. Cover kids up as much as possible and consider icaridin insect repellents for young children instead.
- Do not put insect repellent near your eyes, mouth, nose, or cuts/abrasions.
- Insect repellents should only be sprayed outdoors on a calm day, away from pets and children.
- Permethrin is extremely toxic when wet, so do not touch it when wet. Fortunately it has very low toxicity when dry.
- Wash permethrin treated clothes separately from untreated clothes.
The EPA has not tested most natural products for effectiveness, so it’s hard to know which work well against ticks. One product that has been EPA approved and shown to be effective (see study abstract here), is BioUD, which contains the active ingredient 2-undecanone from wild tomato plants. Unfortunately it only repels ticks for 2 hours, so you will need to reapply frequently. Available online here.
What About Icaridin?
- According to Consumer Reports, the top performing insect repellent was Sawyers Picaridin with 20% Picaridin (Icaridin). Other brands containing 20% Icaridin include: Mosquito Shield Piactive (available at MEC), Natrapel 8-hour, and Autan Tropical (ships from Europe). Pump types work better than aerosols.
- Icardin may be safer for children – it is recommended “by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Canadian Advisory Committee on Tropical Medicine and Travel for travellers six months to 12 years of age”6 whereas DEET sprays in concentrations >10% are not advised for children under 12 years old.
- Icaridin isn’t smelly, is less greasy than DEET and doesn’t damage synthetic materials.
|PiActive Insect Repellent containing picaridin available at MEC.|
More Tick Safety Tips
Finally, be aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease and other illnesses carried by ticks. In the case of Lyme disease, it is very treatable if caught early (typical treatment is a few rounds of antibiotics)! For more information on Lyme disease, please see CanLyme.com.
If you find a tick on you or near you in Alberta, submit it to the Submit A Tick program. Details here: http://www.health.alberta.ca/health-info/lyme-disease.html. Ticks found on pets can be submitted to your veterinarian.