Preventing mosquito bites: recommendations from the CDC
The CDC recommends using an EPA-registered insect repellent, which is proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
The CDC has issued a series of guidelines for preventing mosquito bites in adults, children, and babies.
The agency recommends using an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent, which is proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
EPA-registered insect repellent with 1 of the 5 following active ingredients—DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol, and 2-undecanone—provides longer protection than repellents without 1 of these ingredients.
The CDC developed the following tips and recommendations for preventing mosquito bites while using an EPA-registered insect repellent:
Tips for everyone
- Always follow the product label instructions.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
Tips for babies and children
- Always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child's hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
- Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child's face.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
Protect your baby or child
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Treat items such as boots, pants, socks, and tents with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
- Permethrin-treated clothing will protect you after multiple washings.
- If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions.
- Do not use permethrin products directly on skin.
- In some places, such as Puerto Rico, where permethrin products have been used for years in mosquito control efforts, mosquitoes have become resistant to it. In areas with high levels of resistance, use of permethrin is not likely to be effective.
Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home
- Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Use air conditioning when available.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
- Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers. Check inside and outside your home. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
The CDC does not recommend using natural insect repellents or repellents not registered with EPA.
- Prevent Mosquito Bites [press release]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. January 17 2017.
- Controlling Mosquitoes at Home [press release]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 21 2017.