Permethrin is a synthetic version of Pyrethrum (Pyrethrin) - a naturally occurring substance which protects plants from insects. Unlike Picaridin, DEET and Lemon Eucalyptus, permethrin is an insecticide (kills insects) rather than an insect repellent. Permethrin is typically sprayed on clothing and other materials. It is non-staining, has no odor, and is resistant to heat, light and moisture. Used in conjunction with Picaridin or DEET repellents it is provides highly effective protection from mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, bedbugs, flies, chiggers and many other pests.
Spray permethrin on clothing, mosquito nets, sleeping bags, tents, or other fabrics. Never apply Permethrin directly to your skin. It's best to spray outdoors and let clothing dry before wearing. The effectiveness lasts a long time. Fabrics treated with permethrin will provide protection for up to two weeks - it even lasts for a wash cycle or two! You can buy clothing that has been specially treated with Permethrin to retain it's effectiveness through many washings.
Permethrin treated fabrics are considered safe for children. Avoid spraying near lakes and ponds as its toxic to fish. Pay attention to precautions and instructions on the product label.
Permethrin affects the neurological system of insects. Upon contact with permethrin-treated surfaces, mosquitos, ticks, chiggers and other insects will fall off almost immediately, nearly all will die from this brief contact. Studies show permethrin-treated bed nets greatly reduce the risk of malaria in areas where the disease is prevalent. It is most effective when used along with DEET (or Picaridin) repellents. One study showed 99.9% protection from mosquitos when using these two products together - this test was done in a situation where an unprotected person would receive an average of over 1000 bites per hour!
Though a very small percentage or people may experience minor skin irritation and redness from coming in contact with permethrin, it is virtually non-toxic to humans. Reactions to permethrin products are very rare.
The FDA has approved several permethrin-based products for use on dogs, including sprays and spot-on's. Some dogs have been known to exhibit side effects ranging from skin redness and irritation to drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy or seizures. In the case of severe symptoms, call your vet immediately. Skin irritation can be relieved by bathing your dog to remove the substance, but you should still consult your veterinarian. Permethrin shouldn't be used on young puppies (under 12 weeks), pregnant or nursing dogs, sick dogs, or dogs with kidney, liver or heart disease. It should never be used in conjunction with flea or tick collars or other flea/tick sprays.
If you are only using Permethrin to protect against fleas and ticks, there are alternatives which have far less risk of side effects. Ask your veterinarian.
NEVER use permethrin on cats! Exercise caution and follow label warnings when using permethrin products if you have cats.. Avoid using it on dogs who play with or are groomed by family cats. Don't use it around fish tanks or ponds either as it is toxic to fish.
Permethrin treated clothing poses no threat to cats once the product has dried.
Used as directed, permethrin is a very safe and effective way to protect against mosquito and tick bites and it's one of the best ways to combat bed bugs too.. As with any product, carefully read and follow the label precautions and instructions for use.