Updated & revised: May, 2020

Picaridin - an effective alternative to DEET

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Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023) is a repellent for mosquitoes and other insects which is similar in effectiveness to DEET, but more pleasant to use and much less likely to cause skin irritation. This Piperidine derivative (a synthetic of a substance found in pepper plants), originally developed by Bayer®, has been available worldwide since 1998 and is one of the best selling insect repellents in Europe where it is also known as "Icaridin" and was formerly marketed under the name Bayrepel®. Picaridin has been available in the USA since 2005.

Picaridin vs DEET    FAQ    Buy Picaridin Repellents

Picaridin Mosquito Repellent - General Information

Picaridin - KBR 3023 - Icaridin

Testing and Recommendations

In 2000 the World Health Organization proclaimed that, due to its safety, effectiveness and cosmetic properties, Picaridin was their recommended product for repelling the mosquitoes that carry Malaria. They noted that under some circumstances it was more effective than DEET.

Dermatological testing has shown that Picaridin is almost odorless and not irritating to the skin (a major drawback to DEET insect repellents). The Jan-Feb 2004 issue of the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology declared it to be "as effective and less irritating than diethyl toluamide (DEET)".

In 2005 the US Centers for Disease Control revised it's mosquito repellent recommendations to include Picaridin in their list of products which are effective in preventing against the transmission of West Nile Disease. Also added to the list was a naturally-derived product, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus offer mosquito protection comparable to low-concentration DEET repellents.

Picaridin has also has been tested for effects on various household substances and has been shown to cause no major damage to plastics, sealants, plastic coatings or other synthetics.

Effective in repelling mosquitoes, deer ticks, flies and more

Picaridin has proven effective in laboratory and field tests against a variety of mosquitoes, ticks and flies and other biting insects including:

  • Aedes albopictus - Asian Tiger Mosquito
  • Aedes aegypti - Yellow Fever Mosquito
  • Aedes taeniorhynchus - Black Salt Marsh Mosquito
  • Anopheles stephensi, Anopheles sinensis and Anopheles dirus - 3 species of mosquito found throughout Asia and considered vectors for Malaria.
  • Culex pipiens fatigans - House Mosquito

  • Ixodes ricinus - Common tick (aka sheep, pasture or castor-bean tick)
  • Ixodes scapularis - Deer Tick (carrier of Lyme Disease)
  • Rhipicephalus sanguineus - Brown Dog Tick

  • Biting midges (biting gnats)
  • Culex quinquefasciatus Tabanidae - Horsefly
  • Musca domestica - Housefly
  • Simulium venustum - Black Fly
  • Stomoxys calcitrans - Stable Fly

These species are known to transmit Lyme Disease, Malaria, West Nile Disease, Zika Virus and other serious health threats.

Picaridin has been well tested and is recommended by health authorities as a safe, effective and more pleasant alternative to DEET.

Picaridin vs DEET

  Picaridin DEET
Efficacy (mosquitoes and ticks) Excellent against mosquitoes. Slightly more effective against no-see-ums than DEET. Repels a wider range of insect species. Excellent . Slightly more effective against ticks than Picaridin..
Safety and Toxicity - General Very low toxicity. Occasionally some people may experience mild skin irritation. A 15 year study published in the journal of Clinical Toxicology showed virtually no Picaridin-related incidents reported in the National Poison Data System. Considered very safe when used as directed. Some people can develop a contact rash from DEET. Can cause serious problems if it gets in the eyes or is ingested. A 15 year study published in the journal Clinical Toxicology showed numerous reports of issues related to DEET. However it is considered safe when used as directed.
Safe for children? The CDC approves the use of Picaridin for children over 2 months old. There are no limits on re-application. DEET is approved for use on children 2 months and older but should only be used once a day and not on the face.
Safe to use during pregnancy? Yes. The EPA considers Picaridin safe to use during pregnancy. Yes. The EPA considers DEET safe to use during pregnancy.
Safe for pets? Believed to be non-toxic to dogs, BUT there are no specific studies on pets and it is not licensed for use on pets. Please ask your veterinarian for recommendations for your pet.
Do NOT use on cats or other pets.
No. Never use DEET on pets!
Odor Little to no odor Strong chemical odor
On your skin Not noticeably heavy or greasy. Greasy or oily feeling.
Safe in contact with other materials? (clothing, sports gear, etc.) Picaridin is generally harmless to clothing and gear. Doesn't damage cloth, plastic, vinyl, or other materials. DEET can do a lot of damage to other materials, damaging or even dissolving rubber, plastic, leather, vinyl, rayon, spandex, elastic and even the paint on your car! Wash or wipe hands well after applying, and avoid getting it on clothing, eyeglasses, sunglasses or gear.
How long does it protect? 7% Picaridin protects up to 2 hours. Formulas with 20% Picaridin are more effective. Some sprays with 20% Picaridin claim to protect up to 12 hours, lotions with 20% Picaridin up to 14 hours. 10% DEET protects up to 2 hours. Formulas with 20%-50% DEET protect for 5-8 hours. Controlled-release formulas (20%-30%) last up to 12 hours
Impact on the environment Picaridin is non-toxic to birds and mammals. Mildly toxic to some fish in large quantities. Does not leach into the groundwater and is broken down by bacteria in soil.. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, DEET is not toxic to mammals but is slightly toxic to birds and more so to freshwater fish in high concentrations. DEET is broken down by bacteria in soil.
Recommended by: WHO, CDC, EWG WHO, CDC, EWG
EPA Registered? Yes Yes


Picaridin FAQ

General Use

Is Picaridin natural?
No. But Picaridin is a synthetic version of a natural substance - Piperadine - which is found in plants that produce black pepper.
Is Picaridin a pesticide?
Pesticides are substances that kill insects. Picaridin is an insect repellent - it repels insects but doesn't kill them.
What does Picaridin repel?
Picaridin is effective at repelling a variety of insects including mosquitoes, ticks, flies and biting gnats ("no see ums", sand flies.)
Is Picaridin waterproof?
No. Picaridin is not waterproof and needs to be re-applied after swimming or similar exposure to water.
Can Picaridin be sprayed on clothing?
Yes. Picaridin can safely be sprayed on clothing. We recommend testing on an inconspicuous part of the garment first to make sure the product you're using won't stain.
What are some products that contain Picaridin?
Picaridin can be found in insect repellent sprays, aerosols, wipes and lotions by a number of brands, including Sawyer, Off, Natrapel, RangerReady, Avon, Cutter, EarthKind and others.


Is Picaridin safe on skin?
Picaridin is generally safe to use when applied to the skin. A very small number of people may experience minor skin irritation.
Is Picaridin safe for humans?
When used as intended, it is very safe. Picaridin has been recommended by the CDC and is registered with the US EPA..The EPA has classified Picaridin as "slightly toxic" if ingested or if there is acute eye exposure, and practically non-toxic for inhalation exposure.
Is Picaridin a neurotoxin?
No - Picaridin is not neurotoxic.
Is Picaridin safe for pets?
We found no studies demonstrating the safety of Picaridin on pets. Picaridin is not currently an ingredient in any insect repellents manufactured for pets and is not licensed for use on pets. Please ask your veterinarian to recommend an appropriate insect control product for your pet.
Is Picaridin toxic to dogs?
Picaridin is not believed to be toxic to dogs, however it is not licensed for use on dogs.
Is Picaridin safe for toddlers?
Used as directed, the CDC says that Picaridin is safe to use on children 2 months and older.
Is it safe to use Picaridin if you are pregnant?
Yes. The US EPA has rated Picaridin as safe to use if you are pregnant.
Is Picaridin a carcinogen?
Based on the results of animal studies, the US EPA has stated that Picaridin is unlikely to cause cancer, even after long-term use.
Is Picaridin safer than DEET?
When used as directed, both Picaridin and DEET are considered safe. However there are many reports in the National Poison Data System of issues caused by misuse of DEET, and far fewer reports involving Picaridin.

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