Applying skin repellent to the areas of your body that are not covered by permethrin-treated clothing will offer the best defense against tick bites.
Of course, we would all likely prefer to use natural substances to repel ticks. Currently, though, there appears to be no completely natural repellent that has been proven to be truly effective against ticks – including oil of lemon eucalyptus.
While scientific research has shown that oil of lemon eucalyptus and other natural products are highly effective against mosquitoes and other pests, we have found no studies that conclude that natural repellents actually work against ticks. However, we will gladly update this site when such research becomes available.
Regardless of which repellent you choose to use (either for yourself or for your children), there are some important general guidelines from the CDC, the University of Maine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that you should follow:
- Always carefully read and follow all of the manufacturer’s precautions and directions on the product label.
- Never apply repellent under clothing, but only to exposed skin.
- Never apply repellent to cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
- Never apply repellents directly to the face. Spray it on your hands and then carefully apply it to your face, avoiding contact with your eyes and mouth.
- Never apply repellents when you are near food or drinks.
- Never apply repellents to children who are under two months of age. Check the product label for any additional directions or restrictions.
- Never apply repellents to children’s hands, or near their eyes and mouths. Instead, apply the substance to your hands, first, and then carefully rub it onto the child’s face, avoiding the eyes and mouth.
- Never allow young children to apply skin repellents.
- Never use products that combine DEET (or any other repellent) with sunscreen. For best results, when you need both sunscreen and repellent, use both in lotion form, and always apply sunscreen first, and then apply insect repellent at least 10 minutes later.
- Never over-apply skin repellents. Use only the amount allowed by the manufacturer’s directions.
- Never spray repellents in an enclosed area. Always seek out open, well-ventilated areas that are protected from the wind.
- Always immediately wash any treated skin with soap and water after returning indoors.
For more information and the actual product names for repellents that contain these and other active ingredients, you can use the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) search tool.
The most common active ingredients used in consumer skin repellents that have proven effective against ticks are linked below: