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Insect repellent


All topical insect repellents sold in Australia must be registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), which assesses products for their efficacy and safety.

Topical insect repellents containing DEET and picaridin are safe and effective when used according to the instructions on the label. They are widely used and strongly recommended to reduce risk of mosquito bites. There are many products available. Always check the label for suitability, including age range.

A higher concentration of DEET or picaridin does not relate to better effectiveness, only how long the repellent lasts. A lower concentration (i.e. 10 – 20%) is recommended – reapply regularly as required.

If a child is unable to use a recommended insect repellent due to their age or for other reasons, other mosquito prevention measures should be followed.

Using insect repellent

Children and staff should be encouraged to wear insect repellents that contain picaridin or DEET. Always follow instructions on the product label for recommended age use.

Services may purchase insect repellent for staff and children to use at the service. Using repellent is strongly recommended. You should discuss this with parents, to ensure there are no issues with allergies or sensitivities to products.

A thin, even layer of insect repellent should be applied to all exposed skin and rubbed in to ensure no spots are missed. Avoid applying repellent to a child’s hands, eyes and mouth.

Staff should follow the below guidance for repellent use:

  • Use only as directed by the instructions on the label.
  • Sharing roll-on between children is safe, but children with skin infections should use their own product.
  • If you need to apply both sunscreen and repellent, apply the sunscreen first.
  • Repellent is not water-resistant. It may need to be reapplied frequently, particularly if sweating from heat or exercise.
  • Do not use on cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
  • Supervise use by younger children and store repellents out of reach of children.
  • Always discontinue use if any skin irritation occurs and seek medical advice as required.

Where a child has a known allergy to insect repellent or opts not to use repellent, other mosquito protection measures should be followed.

Children under 12 months

In high-risk LGAs, when mosquito activity is observed, children under 12 months should be kept indoors. Where this is not possible, it is best if infants are wearing long, loose clothing and use insect nets to cover as much exposed skin as possible.

When using repellent, consult the label and always follow the instructions. Note: Some formulation labels may state “not suitable for children under 12 months of age” or provide similar advice.

Purchasing insect repellent

Services can order insect repellent from a variety of retailers, including chemists and supermarkets.

Services should select repellent with the lowest concentration of DEET or picaridin available (e.g. 10%) and reapply as required. Lower concentration repellents may include Aerogard Odourless Protection; RID Medicated Insect Repellent Kids + Antiseptic Repellent; and RID Medicated Insect Repellent Low Irritant + Antiseptic Repellent. Higher concentrations do not relate to better effectiveness, only the duration of the effect.

Reviewed 02 February 2023


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