Healthy living

Insect repellent

Fight the bite

There is no cure or vaccine for mosquito-borne disease in WA. The only way to prevent infection is to avoid being bitten.

Use an insect repellent containing DEET (diethyltoluamide) or picaridin. As a general rule, the greater the percentage of DEET or picaridin, the longer the product will remain effective. Always read and follow the label instructions. Incorrect application may reduce the effectiveness of the product.

Repellent use in children

Where possible, avoid exposing your baby or child to mosquitoes. Consider staying indoors, using pram netting or dressing them in loose long-sleeved clothing, socks and shoes.

  • Under 12 months – repellents containing DEET or picaridin are not recommended.
  • From 12 months – repellents containing up to 10% DEET or picaridin can be used.

Correct application of repellents to children

  • Always apply the repellent according to the instructions on the label.
  • Do not allow children to apply repellents.
  • Apply repellent first to the hands of the carer and then spread evenly to exposed skin of child.
  • Avoid applying repellent to the child’s hands, near the eyes or mouth.
  • Avoid applying repellent under clothing.

Correct application of repellent in adults

  • Always apply the repellent according to the instructions on the label.
  • Always use a repellent containing up to 20% DEET or picaridin.
  • Apply repellent to all areas of exposed skin.
  • For all areas (except face), apply repellent directly to skin and spread evenly with hands.
  • For face application, apply first to hands and then spread evenly on face, avoiding the mouth and eyes.
  • Do not apply repellent under clothing.
  • For prolonged periods outdoors, you may need to reapply repellent. Follow label instructions about how often you need to do this.
  • Repellents will not work if you apply them sparingly to the skin.

Repellents are considered extremely safe when applied correctly. However, if you experience a serious reaction, consult your GP or call the Poison Information Centre Australia on 13 11 26.

Where to get help


Environmental Health


Fight the Bite is an initiative of the Government of South Australia.
This web content has been reproduced and adapted with permission from SA Health.

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.