DEET can be applied directly to the skin or most clothing. Be careful not to put it near your child's eyes, mouth, open wounds or the hands of infants who may touch their eyes or mouth. Because it is absorbed through the skin, use it cautiously and only when needed.
There is a new plant-based bug repellant called Off Botanicals that actually duplicates the naturally occurring repellant in lemon eucalyptus oil. It is recommended for outdoor activities such as picnics, barbeques, bicycling and going to the beach. The lotion is as effective as Off with 7 percent DEET and is effective for up to 90 minutes at which time it may be reapplied.
Citronella, a plant-derived alternative, repels mosquitoes but is less effective than DEET.
For information on the active ingredients in repellants, contact the National Pesticide Telecommunication Network at 800-858-7378.